Friday, November 19, 2010

Jerusalem Post, November 19. 2010

Rocket warfare escalates as four explode in Negev     (1)

First Grad rocket from Gaza hits Ofakim since Operation Cast Lead, causing damage; three more Kassams shot.

Violence from the Gaza Strip escalated Thursday night and Friday morning, as three Kassam rockets and a Grad rocket (2) were shot from Gaza towards Israel.

The Grad rocket was the first since July, and the first to land near Ofakim since Operation Cast Lead. The rocket exploded in an open area, injuring three cows and damaging a building.

In addition, two Kassam rockets (3) landed in the Merhavim regional council of the western Negev. No injuries and damage were reported.

Another rocket was shot on Friday morning. It landed in Palestinian territory.

The escalation may have been a reaction to the IDF assassination of two members of the Army of Islam, an al-Qaida affiliated group (4) (5). Earlier on Thursday, the Army of Islam issued a threat in Hebrew for the first time, saying that Jews are not safe from attacks.

Kassam rockets have been shot from Gaza towards the western Negev almost daily since 2001. The IDF Spokesperson's unit reported that over 180 rockets have landed in Israel since the beginning of the year.
What's missing:

(1) This entire report is missing - from the world's major media outlets. Online searches of BBC, CNN, NY Times, Reuters, Canada's Globe and Mail and the Toronto Store - to mention just a few - return no results on this topic.  Yet this is an act of war. See Article 52 of the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions.
Why does it matter? Because if Israel were to retaliate in order to prevent future rocket attacks, and the world media reported on that retaliation, there would be no context and Israel would once again appear to be the aggressor.

(2)  The Grad is a sophisticated rocket, first developed in the Soviet Union in 1963 and now available in various configurations. It is far more accurate and far deadlier than the home-made Kassam rocket.

(3) It is often claimed that the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel are little more than a nuisance. Yet they can be deadly. In addition, because the Kassam rocket lacks a guidance system, it cannot be "aimed" at exclusively military targets. By its very nature, this makes the Kassam rocket a tool of terrorism.

(4) It could be argued that as this attack is a retaliation, Israel was the aggressor. However, the legality of targeted assassinations of known terrorist leaders is hotly debated - and in Israel, at least, the Supreme Court has ruled that these are not illegal under international law. It's most important to note, though, that Israel's attack was targeted, while the "retaliation" was not. It was clearly designed to cause terror and, if at all possible, to result in civilian injuries and death. The Israeli attack hit its intended target, with minimal damage to surrounding infrastructure and population. So, while the legality of the Israeli attack can be argued, the rocket attacks from Gaza are war crimes (see (1) above).

(5) Interestingly, the Israeli attack on the Army of Islam leaders was reported by the BBC, CNN,  and NY Times. Which begs the question: why are attacks against Israel ignored, while Israeli actions get reported?

As expected, Israel has struck back - and the BBC has reported on it. Of special interest is how the BBC leads with a headline that reinforces the notion of Israeli "aggression". In contrast, CNN deserves credit for noting in its headline that Israel has hit "targets in Gaza".

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