Monday, March 12, 2012

Arlene Kushner On Rockets From Gaza And The Decline Of Hamas

From Arlene Kushner

March 12, 2012

"The Barrage Continues"


It's been a while since I have provided an update on Zakkai, the little boy I had asked readers to pray for, and so I begin by providing one here. 

Last I wrote on this subject I indicated that there was good news -- the tumor on his spine was determined to be benign and not some rare form of cancer as originally thought.  Since I wrote, the parents have taken great care to confirm this new diagnosis with several different medical institutions -- and they indeed concur.  This means the tumor will not metastasize, and no horrendous chemotherapy is called for. But the tumor is still there and has to be removed.  The parents are investigating with tremendous diligence a number of top flight potential sites for having this surgery done -- each offering its own  recommendations and techniques.  In a few weeks, at most, the decision will be made.  At present the child is in very good spirits. The original surgery that was done on the tumor, which removed just some of it, relieved pressure on his spine. 

This is what he now looks like: 

You can access this site for more information about him on an on-going basis:

And please, keep praying. Rafael Zakkai Avraham Ben Yakira Avigael.


Now as to that barrage:

Last November I wrote an article about the growing ascendency of Islamic Jihad over Hamas in Gaza.  It is still relevant: Islamic Jihad: Iran’s New Favored Proxy 

Today we can see the growing impotency of Hamas.  For Hamas is the group -- ostensibly in control in Gaza -- that the Egyptians are working with to secure a rocket ceasefire. But Hamas is no longer in full control: in spite of its declarations regarding its ability to stop other groups from launching rockets, Islamic Jihad, and to a lesser extent PRC (Popular Resistance Committees), are continuing to launch rockets in an attack that is escalating.   

It is Islamic Jihad that is in possession of, and has been launching, the more dangerous Grad Katyusha rockets.  At least five have been launched at Beersheva and a couple at Ashdod today.  In most instances, Iron Dome has intercepted them.  The radius of the rocket fire has grown and now reaches the Gadera area (some 12 km. east of Ashdod).  Three women have been injured.  Damage has been done to buildings and cars, in Gadera and Ashdod.

The Israeli Air Force is continuing to hit hard at targets, aiming at key Jihadists when possible. While Islamic Jihad maintains that it will not stop unless Israel stops first:

Declared Islamic Jihad Deputy Secretary-General Ziad a-Nahala, "Israel is the aggressor and so it has to halt fire first. After that, we will assess the situation and decide on a ceasefire."  He said that Cairo had been informed that IJ opposes a ceasefire.


In the last 76 hours, according to the IDF, more than 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza. That's a huge amount, and it's appropriate to ask where we're going with this.  All well and good that the Iron Dome batteries mitigate some of the risk. Some 1 million Israelis are still hunkered down in shelters, unable to live normal lives, and at risk even so. 

This is not an acceptable situation.  One feels the need to ask, Are our people to remain sitting ducks?
Both Chief of Staff Gantz and other IDF leaders have been commenting about the need to ratchet up the air attack on Gaza, without mentioning a possible land operation similar to Cast Lead.  But only recently, Gantz -- in the face of information about arms build-up in Gaza -- had indicated that an operation there would be necessary before long (although he was very vague as to when this might be).  The IDF is prepared.  The decision is a political one.

If this continues beyond several days, stronger action will become necessary.  Equally so will this be the case if -- Heaven forbid -- there are people killed or very seriously injured.  This is the painful and ironic political reality: Once there is a tragedy, the equation shifts.

Already, the situation looms as serious enough so that there is the first hint of the possibility of a land operation.  This is how PM Netanyahu's words spoken today -- "The IDF is ready to expand its operations and continue them as necessary" -- are being interpreted.  He spoke of  "crushing offensive capabilities" and the ability of the IDF to hit the terrorists "wherever they are." 

While Minister of Strategic Affairs Ya'alon said today,  "[the IDF will] continue to operate in Gaza until the other side thinks better of continued fire into Israel...At this point we see no need to enter Gaza, but the possibility exists."


Ostensibly, this barrage is in retaliation for our strike on the Popular Resistance Committees leader al-Kaisi, but there is a great deal more going on. When it was suggested at the Cabinet meeting yesterday that this was an attempt by Palestinian Arabs to bring the issues back on center stage after the recent focus on Iran, Netanyahu responded that:

"This is about Iran.  If it were not for Iran, these extremists would not have their weapons, training or logistical support."

Perhaps we have to ask if Iran is sending a message in response to Netanyahu's tough talk at AIPAC.  This possibility makes it all the more important that we respond in Gaza with great force.


Yoram Ettinger, writing in Israel Hayom, says:

"The war on terrorism cannot be won by defensive - but only by offensive – means, notwithstanding the impressive performance of the Iron Dome missile defense system...

"Personal and national security will not be advanced by the conclusion of another ceasefire with Palestinian terrorists, but by the destruction of the ideological, educational, political, financial, logistical and operational infrastructures of Palestinian fire.

"Israel's security will not be enhanced by deterring Palestinians from launching missiles at Israel, but by denying them the capability to launch missiles.

"Israel's security will not be bolstered by the power to retaliate against Palestinian missiles, but by the power to preempt and to prevent the launching of - and to eliminate - Palestinian missiles. 

"An effective offensive against Palestinian terrorist capabilities should not be surgical and limited in scope and time, but comprehensive, decisive, sustained and disproportionate, aiming to devastate all terrorist infrastructures and capabilities, bringing the enemy to submission. 

"A limited response to terrorism, and the pursuit of ceasefires, constitutes a prescription for a war of attrition – the dream of terrorists and the nightmare of democracies. 
"An effective offensive should not strive for engagement and coexistence with – or the suspension of - terrorism, but for uprooting terrorism."

Read Defense and retaliation – not an option

Points of interest here: 
  • Egypt, which is attempting to broker that ceasefire, is said to have warned Islamic Jihad about a possible Israeli attack on al-Kaisi.  Islamic Jihad was told to restrict itself to operations in Gaza and to stay out of Sinai.

  • Al-Kaisi was directly connected to the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. It was the Popular Resistance Committees that had grabbed him, interrogated him, and turned him over to Hamas.

Many is the time, writing in my postings and in private communication with readers, that I have sought to alert Americans to the danger that Iran presents not only to Israel, but to the US as well.  Many is the time that I have felt something akin to despair at the apparent failure of many Americans to perceive what will be coming down the road if strong action is not taken.

 Here I would like to share the observations of Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, who asks, Could Iran Threaten the US?

"For years, more than a few policymakers in Washington have taken quiet comfort in the notion that, no matter how vexing a challenge Iran and its nuclear ambitions might be, the Islamic republic remained a distant adversary — one not yet capable of putting America at risk.

"That fiction, however, is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.  Take the intelligence community's latest assessment of worldwide threats, unveiled publicly before Congress in late January. That estimate, delivered by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, providesthe clearest indication to date that Iran poses a direct threat to the U.S. on at least three levels. (Emphasis added)

"Latin America. Recent years have seen significant Iranian attention to, and activity in, the countries south of the U.S. border. Iran's vibrant strategic partnership with the regime of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela has captured the lion's share of media attention, but Tehran has established growing beachheads elsewhere in the region, including in Bolivia, Ecuador and throughout the region's loosely regulated free trade areas...

"Underpinning this activism is what amounts to a seismic shift in Iranian strategic calculations. As Clapper outlined, 'Iranian officials — probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now willing to conduct an attack in the United States.'

Cyberwarfare... Iran's leadership is making major investments in cyberwarfare. Over the past year, it has announced the establishment of a dedicated cyber command under the country's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and launched what is rumored to be a $1 billion plan to enhance its cyber-defense and cyber-offense capabilities, with significant results.

"'Iran's intelligence operations against the United States, including cyber capabilities, have dramatically increased in recent years in depth and complexity,' Clapper warned lawmakers.
"More and more, there are signs that these burgeoning capabilities could be aimed at the U.S...

"Ballistic Missiles.  When the Obama administration unveiled its overhaul of U.S. missile defense strategy in September 2009, it staked its new 'phased adaptive approach' on the judgment that Iran was a long way from acquiring an intercontinental ballistic missile capability.  Therefore, priority should be given to defending U.S. allies overseas, rather than the American homeland.

"Increasingly, however, that reading no longer rings true.
"'Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, and it is expanding the scale, reach, and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces, many of which are inherently capable of carrying a nuclear payload,' the latest intelligence assessment holds.

"If anything, that's an understatement. As Uzi Rubin, one of the world's foremost experts on ballistic missiles, recently told an audience at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, 'Iran is turning the corner, or soon will' in its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles...

"Needless to say, these advances make Iran a truly international threat.
" is by now apparent that the danger posed by Iran to American security is both clear and increasingly present."


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