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Will new Gaza rocket attacks provoke another big Israeli response?

January 11, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–Ha’aretz headlines an escalation. Some 20 rockets and mortars have been fired toward Israel in recent days, so far with no casualties and minimum property damage. Ten Palestinians have been killed in retaliations by the air force, and there has been damage to structures as well as the tunnels used to smuggle goods from Egypt. Reports are that Hamas rulers are not interested in escalation, but allow other groups to do what they want.

So far no demands from the good people of the earth that it is all Israel’s fault, due to Gazans’ suffering, and that Israel must stop the blockade and the carnage. Or maybe there is, but I haven’t noticed. Or it has not yet begun. Or people have forgotten, are more concerned with winter, the escapades of the Northern Irish politician’s wife, Obama’s plundering American pocketbooks for the sake of the nation’s health, or some other catastrophe.  

It is best to view what is happening in Gaza as simply another example of Palestinian madness. Activists unlimber their home made munitions, point them in the general direction of Israel with little chance of doing significant damage, and produce deaths of their own people and a hardening of the blockade. Now Egypt is building an underground barrier against the smugglers’ tunnels, and with every rocket Israel closes its border for a day or so, stopping the shipment of food and other humanitarian supplies.

Politicians and military personnel are saying that another major operation will be necessary. It’s only a matter of time.

A year ago more than a thousand Gazans died. Ten Israeli soldiers also lost their lives, some of them due to accidents or mistaken friendly fire. The rubble is still prominent. People are passing their second winter in crude shelters. Foreign governments and activists shake their fists and say nasty things about Israel’s disproportionate responses, but do nothing more. Who wants rockets and mortars landing in their towns, even if they seldom produce injuries?

Toward the end of the Vietnam war, American officers lamented that they had already destroyed everything of value from the air, and further strikes did nothing more than bounce the rubble. Israel will bounce some of the rubble in Gaza, and most likely kill more Gazans if the rockets continue. It won’t be pleasant. It will not free Gilad Shalit. It will not do anything to solve the problems of Israel and Palestine. It will not solve the dispute between the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, without which there is no point at Israel trying to woo either of them to peace negotiations.

The American emissary, George Mitchell, is threatening. If Israel. does not make substantial efforts toward peace, his country might cancel the guarantees provided for Israel’s international lending.


Israel politicians have responded that they do not need the guarantees. Its economy weathered the American-provoked economic crisis rather well, and its credit rating allows loans at decent rates without American assurances of repayment.

The Palestinian leadership of the West Bank is holding to the Obama-inspired demand that Israel stop all construction in its settlements, including the post-1967 neighborhoods of Jerusalem. They will not participate in negotiations until that occurs.


Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

  1. January 15, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Professor Sharkansky
    Last year I visited some disengaged families who live in Karmia (south of Ashkelon). They were upset that they had not been assigned permanent homes inside Israel and away from the Kasams. Has anything been done for them yet?

    Hal Taback
    Carlsbad, CA

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