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The Gaza Mess Print E-mail

By Jay Bushinsky
November 9, 2006

gaza on sunday nightJERUSALEM -- The violence-impacted Gaza Strip is not just a thorn in adjacent Israel's side.  If left to its own diabolical devices, it could turn the Jewish state into a depopulated and uninhabitable entity. Palestinian extremists have been using this tiny enclave along this country's Mediterranean seacoast as a launching platform for their home-made Qassam rockets which are a crude version of Nazi Germany's awesome V-1's and V-2's.  

They have been targeting the nearby cities of Sderot and Ashkelon on a daily basis, especially since the Strip was evacuated by Israel's settlers and soldiers 15 months ago.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, a former chief of the local equivalent of the FBI, said 1,000 Qassams were launched since the unilateral withdrawal. Military reprisals, which escalated since the abduction of Cpl. Gil'ad Shalit, June 25, 2006, from an outpost on this side of the armistice line, have failed to deter the gun crews.  The counter-attacks culminated in the useless takeover and concurrent destruction of Beit Hanoun because Qassams were fired from there. 

Immediately after the Israeli task force's pullout the Qassams were flying again.  This prompted anImage artillery barrage one of whose shells missed the launch site and smashed into a residential area.  The unintentional death toll was 19 innocent men, women and children.  

This tragic fiasco occurred in the context of the government's dubious and dangerous policy of pin-point targeting: airborne assassinations of persons suspected of involvement in the development, manufacture and firing of Qassams.  

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his coalition cabinet should study the British response to the Germans' so-called "buzz bombs," which not only caused death and heavy damage, but also threatened to distract the Royal Air Force to such an extent that it might not have been able to provide sufficient cover for the Allied troops who landed in Normandy, June 6, 1944.

He should read what his wartime British counterpart, Sir Winston S. Churchill, wrote about this weapon:  "The blind, impersonal nature of the missile made the individual on the ground feel helpless.  There was little that he could do, no enemy that he could see shot  down."  These words apply as much to the residents of Sderot and Ashkelon now as they did to the war-weary Londoners.

 Unlike Olmert, Churchill decided to deliver a knock-out blow to the Nazis' unmanned missile capability by bombing the secret bastion at Peenemunde on the Baltic Sea from which they came.  "We must attack it on the heaviest possible scale as soon as conditions are suitable," he said at the marathon deliberations that preceded the RAF raid, Aug. 17, 1943."  This entailed the dispatch of 600 planes which bombed from 6,000 feet -- half the normal altitude for airborne attacks.  

There was a mishap there and then too, one that dwarfs the Israeli artillery system's failure at Beit Hanoun.  One wave of aircraft assigned to striking the rocket research center near Peenemunde flew too far south and hit a camp for forced laborers.  This cost the lives of 732 Polish, Russian, French and other nationals enslaved by the Third Reich.

There was no subsequent media alarm and no uproar in the UN Security Council.  The latter did not exist then.  Israel's leaders are facing some difficult decisions about the menace posed by the free reign enjoyed by a fanatical minority of extremists operating in the Gaza Strip at the behest of handlers sheltered in Damascus, Syria.   

If they deem their pinpoint operations futile they may resort to the tactics
advocated by Knesset Deputy Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the legislature's committee on foreign affairs and security: reoccupy large segments of the Gaza Strip and make them inaccessible to rocket launching personnel.

They have good reason to fear that perpetuation of the status quo will demoralize Israel by allowing the Gaza Strip to become a staging ground for rocket fire against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  This may seem far-fetched, but with a ton of weaponry being smuggled into the Strip every month, according to security officials here, it could transform the Strip into what southern Lebanon became after Israel gave it to the Hizbollah guerrillas six years ago.

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