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Sderot / Qassam Rockets Print E-mail
By Jay Bushinsky
December 26, 2006


JERUSALEM -- It was a pathetic, heart-rending plea voiced by an angry, desperate Israeli mother living in the beleaguered city of Sderot, the prime target of the Palestinian gun crews' home-made Qassam missiles.
 
Her words should have seared the conscience of Prime Minster Ehud Olmert,
to whom they were addressed.  She spoke just after one of the crude projectiles had landed next to a kindergarten, instilling traumatic fear in the hearts of its little girls and boys.  

In a furious burst of rhetoric broadcast on Israel radio, the Israeli leader was urged to take whatever action may be necessary to bring an end to the airborne terrorism that keeps Sderot's dwindling population in constant jeopardy.
 
"The horror awaits us every morning," she went on.  "People cannot go to work and children are afraid to leave their homes and go to school."   It is as if Olmert has been playing a new form of Russian roulette in which Sderot
is the deadly revolver's chamber and the Palestinian Qassams are the bullets.

If one of the incoming projectiles hits a densely-populated area or slams into a local building with people inside the unthinkable consequences not only may single him out for blame, but also bring an end to his political career.
 
The Israeli leader's incredible rationale for taking this risk is that there are no
military means with which to stop the launchings.  He has said this publicly and, surprisingly, there were few if any expressions of dismay or disbelief here.
 
Undoubtedly, the Qassam launchings can be terminated by the use of armed
force, including a partial or total reoccupation of the Gaza Strip.  This may
not be an attractive option in terms of Israel's ultimate objective, peace, but
if only for the sake of the Qassams' possible victims, it may be unavoidable.
 
There is no room for it, however, within the framework of the Olmert government's foreign and domestic policy.  The former is linked inextricably
to that of the Bush Administration, whose highest priorities in this region of the world are to encourage Arab moderates and expedite the establishment of a Palestinian state adjacent to Israel.  

The latter is based on the notion that Israel cannot and must not annex the
West Bank and Gaza Strip if only because it will not be able to integrate
their respective Palestinian inhabitants into its democratic structure.
 
Accordingly, Olmert is throwing his political weight behind Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the underdog in the increasingly violent
struggle for power between his minority Fatah and the majority Hamas movements.  

The Israeli leader has offered to make several controversial gestures in Abbas' favor such as an initial release of Palestinian prisoners without the prior, simultaneous or subsequent release of Cpl. Gil'ad Shalit, the soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas gunmen six months ago.  

He also has instructed the Israeli army to dismantle dozens of roadblocks in the West Bank and thereby ease overland travel for local Palestinians (despite strong reservations harbored by the military command).
 
What neither he nor the claque of pro-Olmert opinion makers in the Israeli mass media seem to recall is that it was Abbas who ordered the deployment of 13,000 (!) Palestinian police and security personnel in the northern Gaza Strip for the declared purpose of preventing the Qassams from becoming airborne.  

This was one of the main premises of the cease fire offered by the Palestinians a month ago.  Not only did the police fail in their purported mission, but
the gun crews also managed to fire at least 50 Qassams since this abortive cessation of hostilities went into effect.
 
Abbas also failed to intercept the 30-odd tons of arms and ammunition smuggled into the Gaza Strip since Hamas won the last Palestinian Authority election last January or halt the stockpiling of anti-tank rockets presumably for use in the next major round of guerrilla warfare with the Israelis -- likely to be modeled on that of the Hizbollah in Lebanon.

In short, the justifiable protests of the distressed mother in Sderot have been drowned out by Olmert's subservience to the diplomacy of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  This may change, however, if his locally-controversial policy of "restraint" leads to a horrendous disaster.  One may wonder how Olmert sleeps nights without worrying about the odd Qassam that may be its cause and about his own political fate if that is the case.
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