Recently, there has been a spate of rocket impacts in southern Israel. Qassams and GRADs launched from Gaza have hit Ashkelon, Sderot and vicinity. GRADs fired by terrorists in the Sinai also struck Eilat and the Jordanian city of Aqaba, where one man was killed.
The GRAD is based on a WWII Soviet design, and various versions have been deployed since then. It’s about 9 feet long and 5.5 inches in diameter. It has a much longer range, is more accurate and more deadly than the Gaza-built Qassam. It’s produced in numerous countries, including Iran and North Korea, and is smuggled into Gaza via tunnels under the Egyptian border.
While Hamas claims that it did not fire the GRAD that hit Ashkelon, it’s hard to believe that the alphabet soup of terror gangs operating in Gaza could do so without Hamas acquiescence.
One might ask why Hamas has decided to ramp up rocket attacks again, after the trouncing it got a year and a half ago. In order to understand that, we need to look at history according to Hamas. Here is how they see it:
- Israel’s initial exit from Gaza was a direct result of Hamas’ ‘military’ (that is, terrorist) pressure.
- Operation Cast Lead was a victory for Hamas. Israel was forced to exit Gaza, Hamas suffered only about a thousand casualties and succeeded in painting Israel as a war criminal. As a result, future Israeli attempts to attack Hamas in Gaza will likely be met with immediate US pressure.
- The flotilla affair was another victory. Again Israel was portrayed as a criminal. But most important, Israel was forced to lift restrictions on goods entering Gaza, thus validating Hamas’ position that the blockade was either illegal, or constituted ‘collective punishment’, etc. The result has been to establish that Israel is not permitted to apply even non-military sanctions to Hamas!
- By continuing terrorism, Hamas gains credibility among Palestinians who judge the quality of leadership on the basis of how militant it is. Thus, secular Palestinians might say, “I don’t necessarily favor Islamic rule, but at least Hamas fights for us…”
Overall, the conclusion drawn is that terrorism produces gains, and the US and the rest of the ‘international community’ will insulate Hamas against negative consequences.
So why not fire rockets?