Saturday, March 01, 2008

Israel Finally Acts to Defend Itself

As I write this post, Israeli troops are fighting on the ground in Northern Gaza and Israeli planes are bombing targets there. At least 50 rockets were launched from Gaza at Israel today, including 12 at the city of Ashkelon, where 6 civilians were wounded. The rockets launched at Ashkelon included the Russian-designed Grad type Katyusha rocket, presumably supplied by Iran and smuggled into Gaza. It carries more explosives and is more dangerous than the Qassam rockets regularly launched at Sderot from Gaza.

In the ground fighting, two Israeli soliders were killed in firefights with Palestinian gunmen, Doron Asulin, pictured above left, and Eran Dan-Gur, pictured above right.

The Palestinians predictably are charging Israel with atrocities. Palestinian Authority President and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (who earned his PhD from a Soviet university, with a treatise denying that the Shoah--the Holocaust-occurred) labeled Israel's defensive actions against the constant barrages of rockest and motars from Gaza "worse than the Holocaust." Since according to Abbas, the Holocaust never occurred, one supposes that Israel has not done very much at all.

When it comes to anti-Israel propaganda, Hamas and Fatah are united. Hence, speaking from Damascas, Hamas leader Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal described the operations as "the real Holocaust" on Saturday afternoon. He accused Israel of "exaggerating the Holocaust and using it to blackmail the world."

The Palestinians are reporting at least 70 dead, including 12 civilians. That in itself bespeaks of Israeli restraint and precision, since Hamas and Islamic Jihad launch their rockets from civilian areas, and it is their rocket-launching crews and equipment that are the targets of the Israeli raids.

Be prepared for world media to echo the charges of Israeli atrocities, however, accepting Hamas claims at face value and ignoring why the fighting erupted in the first place. Indeed, Hamas has already been caught in one lie. Hamas claimed that a baby, Malak Karfaneh, was killed and three civilians were wounded by an Israeli airstrike on Beit Hanoun, a northern Gaza town from which Palestinians regularly launch rockets at Israel. However, local residents told reporters that the baby was killed and the others wounded when a Palestinian rocket launched from the town fell short of its target.

The Palestinians, for months, have been indiscriminately shelling and launching rockets at Israeli civilian targets. To the extent that Palestinian civilians have been killed or wounded by Israeli counterattacks, they were unintended casualties of attacks aimed at legitimate military targets. It is the Palestinians who deliberately locate their rocket launchers in civilian areas, specifically for the propaganda value of claiming atrocities from Israeli counterstrikes. It is Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in a perverse distortion of the motto "women and children first" who send young children to retrieve their rocket launchers after an attack, so that if an Israeli airstrike is targeted at the launch site, they can claim that the Israelis have targeted children.

There is one truth to remember. At any time the Palestinians could stop the violence simply by ceasing their rocket and artillery attacks on Israel. Because they refuse to do so, they bear total moral responsibility for civilian casualties that may result.


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