Will the Israeli air strikes, and even a threatened ground invasion, end rocket fire from Gaza?
According to the Israeli Government’s own website, “Since the start of Operation Protective Edge [ July 7 to July 14], 971 rockets have been launched at Israel. 754 of those rockets hit Israel, and approximately 201 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he will use ‘any means necessary’ to stop Islamic militant group Hamas from bombing civilians. Former U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross speculated that Netanhayu’s goal is “to restore calm, not dismantle Hamas,” according to a report on Fox news.
The same Israeli Government web site reports on July 14 that Israel has targeted 1,470 “terror sites” in Gaza from the air and sea since the offensive began.
Well, has it worked? Is rocket fire stopping? Actually, just the opposite:
Just as happened during the 22 day air and ground attack on Gaza in 2008-2009 and during the 8 day aerial attack in November 2012, the massive bombing of Gaza that began on July 7 resulted in a massive increasein rocket fire from Gaza.
What put a stop to the rocket attacks back in 2009 and in 2012 was when the Israeli government agreed to a cease fire. A cease fire has been the one method that has reliably worked to stop rocket fire. It is also the one method Netanyahu has not tried in 2014–yet.
Numbers from another Israeli government web site and from the web site of a right wing Israeli think tank, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), tell the story:
On average, 42 rockets struck Israel each day during the Israeli government’s 22 day attack (925 rockets hit Israel total) in 2008-2009. That number is 1200 times higher than the rate at which rockets had been hitting Israel during the cease fire in place before Israeli forces launched an attack that killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza on election day, November 4, 2008. The Israeli Government’s fatal violation of that extremely effective cease fire ended the cease fire and brought on the heavy rocket fire from Gaza.
During the 2008 lead up to Operation Cast Lead, the Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, said “the recent waves of rocket attacks are a result of our operations, which have resulted in the killing of 20 Hamas gunmen” (Ynet News November 20, 2008).
When Ehud Barak acknowledged that he was out to kill Hamas gunmen, for once an Israeli government official told it like it is. He acknowledged that rocket fire was an expected result. The purpose of the 2008-2009 onslaught he directed was certainly not to stop rocket fire. Rocket fire was stopped before the assault on Gaza began. When the killing was done Israeli government officials agreed to a new cease fire, and that stopped the rocket fire the killing had produced.
The next major onslaught on Gaza was in November 2012. On average, 105 rockets struck Israel each day during the Israeli government’s 8 day attack (845 rockets hit Israel total). The cease fire that followed was superbly effective. The number of rockets went to zero for months after the cease fire that ended that onslaught went into effect–despite occasional shootings of Palestinian farmers and fishermen by Israeli forces.
Now in July 2014, on average 108 rockets have hit Israel each day during the first 7 days of the Israeli Government’s current attack on Gaza (754 rockets have hit Israel from July 7 to July 14). This daily rate is 1600 times higher than the rate at which rockets were hitting Israel in May, just two months ago. That nearly rocket-free month was just before Israeli forces launched their three-week long raids on the West Bank in retaliation for the June 12 kidnapping of three settler teens. Then came the Israeli government’s escalation on July 7 when its forces killed 6 Hamas members in a tunnel in Gaza.
According to the right wing Israeli think tank, the ITIC, that compiles data on rocket fire:
In response to the deaths of its operatives in the tunnel, Hamas significantly increased its rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel and used longer-range rockets. On July 7, 2014, 120 rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory, 60 of them during the evening. Hamas said in a statement that the rocket fire included long-range rockets used to attack the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod, Ashqelon, Yavne, Netivot and Ofakim. Several Israeli civilians sustained minor wounds and damage to property was reported. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted more than ten long range rockets. A considerable number of the rockets were fired by Hamas’ military-terrorist wing.
So much for the idea that the Israeli government’s assaults on Gaza stop rocket fire.
Certainly, the Israeli government does have a strong hand on the dial that controls the rocket fire. But it does not work as Israeli spokesman advertise. The facts show that the Israeli government dials up rocket fire by attacking Hamas members in the West Bank and Gaza and by bombing Gaza. The Israeli Government has shown that it can also dial down rocket fire: by observing a cease fire. If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu means what he said Sunday about using ‘any means necessary’ to stop Hamas rocket fire, he knows what works: stop the assault on Gaza.
The data published on the Israeli Government and ITIC websites show time and again that attacks on Hamas members in the West Bank and Gaza produce an increase in rocket fire. Each time a wave of rocket fire followed fatal attacks inflicted on Hamas by Israeli government forces. And each time that rocket fire persisted until a new cease fire was in place.
The facts do not just pose a public relations problem and a credibility problem for Israeli officials. They also pose a legal problem. The facts about rocket fire published on its own web site mean that the Israeli government cannot rely on self-defense to legally justify any part of its onslaughts.
If not to stop rockets, what could the motive for these onslaughts be? One realistic possibility is that the purpose of the onslaughts is to do exactly what the massive attacks on Gaza did do and are doing to Gaza, its families, and their property.