Israel's Defense Minister Handcuffs IDF Artillery Response to Terrorist Rocket Attacks
Yesterday Israeli artillery fired back at the source of Kasam rockets launched by Palestinian terrorists at southern Israeli towns and cities. A technical failure in the targeting mechanism of the artillery's radar system caused seven shells to go astray, hitting a building in Beit Hanoun, killing 19 civilians.
Today, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz took actions that will do nothing to prevent a technical mishap such as occurred Wednesday, but will effectively handcuff the ability of the Israeli Defense Forces artillery to respond to terrorist kassam rocket attacks. As reported here in the Jerusalem Post, Peretz ordered that all artillery fire into the Gaza Strip must first be approved by the Southern Commander, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant.
Even if General Galant had approved the artillery strike on Wednesday, his approval could not have prevented a technical mishap from causing shells to go astray. More importantly, Palestinian terrorists probably do not wait around their launch sites after a rocket attack for the IDF's Southern Commander to approve an artillery counter strike. The Defense Minister's new policy virtually guarantees that the terrorists in Gaza may launch their rockets at Israel with impunity. This is precisely the type of political interference with military operations that caused the debacle in Lebanon this past summer.
For a soldier's view of these events, see "A Gunner's Nightmare," an article in the Jerusalem Post written by Steve Linde, and IDF artillery veteran. He points out that civilian casualties are almost an inevitable result of the deliberate choice by Palestinian gunment to launch their rockets from residential areas in Gaza. Here are some key excerpts:
"The Palestinian terrorists firing at civilian targets in Ashkelon, Sderot and other communities in the western Negev must know that the IDF can and will retaliate, and respond swiftly and strongly. "
"There's a key difference between the Hamas and Hizbullah fighters and Israel's. They intentionally fire rockets at civilian targets, hoping for maximum casualties and damage. We don't. The artillery troops who fired shells at Beit Hanun yesterday weren't hoping to hit civilians. They were targeting terrorists firing rockets."
"Stop the Kassams, and the artillery will stop, says the IDF. "
"But the basic lesson is this: War is a dangerous game, and once you start firing rockets or guns, people will get hurt, and not always the people you plan to hurt."
Why can't Mr. Linde be the IDF Defense Minister? Probably because his military knowledge and common sense disqualify him for the position.