On Saturday the Israeli air force hit an Islamic Jihad squad in Gaza that was preparing to fire a rocket into Israel. The leader of the squad was killed, the other three members wounded.
Soon after, on Saturday night, two retaliatory rockets were fired from Gaza, one of them causing shrapnel wounds to a foreign worker.
In other words, Gaza has Israel covered. The Israeli air force generally carries out successful pinpoint strikes, but Gaza can always exact a price. Even when its projectiles cause no physical damage to people or property, they make sure the residents of southern Israel don’t know a moment’s security.
The pattern was similar in the previous round. Islamic Jihad opened it with a Grad rocket on Wednesday, October 26. Three days later Israel wiped out a five-man cell in Gaza. Islamic Jihad responded with about 40 rockets and mortars that killed one civilian, wounded nine, and damaged property. Israel hit back effectively until the rockets and mortars stopped. But Israelis don’t regard this as a “victory” or a reasonable way to live.
And over the weekend there was an alarming report that “in response to a heightened threat of anti-aircraft weaponry from Gaza and Egypt, the IAF has ordered its planes to temporarily avoid flying over Israel’s southern border.” It’s believed that terrorist groups in the area have “newly procured anti-aircraft weapons from Libya [that were] smuggled into the Gaza Strip and the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula….”
Not surprisingly, so long as Israel makes no decisive move in Gaza, the strategic threat only grows. Smuggling has been a free-for-all since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. Gaza’s rockets can now reach the Tel Aviv area while ever more sophisticated and dangerous weaponry flows in from Libya (another “Arab spring” liability), Iran, and elsewhere.
Also not surprisingly, in this situation, voices in Israel are calling to reoccupy Gaza and put an end to the threat. While some of these come from outside the government, an official in the upper echelon, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, has spoken openly of “toppling Hamas from power and reestablishing control over the southern Strip” where the smuggled weapons enter. Hamas being, of course, the ruler of Gaza, Islamic Jihad a still-weaker rival.
So what’s Israel waiting for?
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