Friday, 16 November 2012

Israel V Gaza (Again)

I'm sure you've all heard the news (partly because the IDF have been bragging) that Israel and Hamas have been trading blows recently. And it looks like another operation Cast Lead style ground invasion might be on the cards. This time it'll be called Operation Pillar of Cloud a biblical reference

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.
And as you can see from the above photo Gaza city has a few pillars of fire to guide the IDF Air force for follow up strikes. As an aside given that both Israel and Palestine have quite large fundamentalist populations including apocalypse cults is it really wise to use explicit religious language in an armed operation? regardless of legality or intent that just seems to be asking for more trouble.

Despite an agreement mediated by Egypt to stop the violence, the Israeli military launched a barrage of strikes on Gaza today, assassinating a top Hamas military leader and killing civilians, including children. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in a televised address.

"Today, in a very accurate way, we hit the Hamas targets and also the rockets which are attacking Israel, we have hit."

Translation from Al Jazeera. Israeli officials say their offensive is a "widespread campaign" called Operation Pillar of Defense and published a video of the strike that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Al-Jabari. Israeli military spokesperson Avital Leibovich said the attack is justified because of Hamas rocket fire into Israel.

"We went on offensive Operation Pillar of Defense in order to first and foremost defend the people of Israel. I'm speaking of one million Israelis that are currently living within the range of the rockets and this must be stopped. Ahmed Jabari is a terrorist that has Israeli blood on his hands, was involved in many terrorist activities against Israelis and this is why he was targeted in the car this afternoon. We will continue this operation as long as we need in order to defend the people of Israel."

Gazans reported multiple strikes throughout the evening following the attack on Al-Jabari's car and many injuries. Residents posting to social media described warships firing from the water and drones flying overhead. Photos posted online allegedly show a one and four year old killed in the attacks. For more we're joined by FSRN's Rami Almeghari from Gaza.

Now the justification for the initial strike on Mr Ahmed Jabari is his position as a military leader in Hamas and the launching of rockets into Israel from Gaza. And both those claims are true Jabari was a military commander or terrorist if you prefer* and rockets were being launched in increasing numbers from Gaza.

However call me old fashioned but I'm of the opinion that you lose the right to complain about something like the launching of rockets and killing civilians if you yourself do the exact same thing in response. This is especially true in Israel's case since they've killed far more civilians then the whole PLO put together.

For example using Israel's own statistics we see that from 2000 to 2012 that the number of Israeli civilians killed was 654 including occupied territories. Whereas Palestinians (funny the table doesn't separate civilians from terrorists or militants) lost 6553 including deaths from the hands of Israeli civilians.

With that in mind you can't really hold onto the moral high ground when your talking about civilian deaths. The only way you could even attempt to cling onto the high ground is if you were racist and viewed Israeli's to be more valuable then Palestinians and that doesn't fly with me either.

Another issue with this favoured argument of the Israeli foreign office is the severe armament disparity between the two. The vast majority of the rockets being launched from Gaza are Qassams, a Qassam is basically the IED of the surface to air missile system.

No those aren't fireworks and this isn't a celebration

Whereas the IDF has the most modern military in the region with generous arms and technology deals with the United States and many European states.

Now to be fair here, despite the comical appearance of the Qassam they do have an effective range (in theory since aiming them accurately isn't possible) that covers a large part of Israel.... Ok not really its at about 10Km and every "successful" strike by Qassam's where in settlements very close to the Gaza and West Bank borders.

Notice the Red, that's the Qassam range
Now Hamas has been able to acquire small stockpiles of more effective rockets as you can see above, in fact they have managed to acquire a few missiles that could reach Tel Aviv. However the majority of its stockpile is the Qassam and thus is the main threat that Hamas can bring to bear on Israel.

Of course a threat isn't ignorable because its small or not likely and I could see why Israeli's would be worried about that rare Fajr falling out of the sky and all but then if I were Israeli I take comfort in the defence system Iron Dome.

Of course this is just an advertisement how does Iron Dome work in reality? Pretty damn good actually.

The Iron Dome system intercepted about 90 percent of the rockets fired at Be’er Sheva, Ashdod and Ashkelon, including three on Sunday morning.
Despite the rocket barrage, Israel kept open the Erez Crossing for passengers and employees of international organizations operating in Gaza. Kerem Shalom was open for the delivery of 200 truckloads to Gaza residents.
Its deployment this past weekend appears to have defeated Hamas, at least for the time being. The terrorist organization has been talking with the new regime in Egypt for another ceasefire after failing to inflict mass casualties or property damage on Israel.

Its important to note that this is the recent exchange of fire which due to Israel's continued "targeted" strikes provoked a response from the military wing of Hamas, so an above average deployment from Gaza. Despite this effective display of Israeli military supremacy it looks like this may escalate into a ground offensive like Cast Lead.

But maybe both sides will just confine themselves to internet flame wars.

I'm surprised they resisted the use of lol and neither of them called the other Teh gay!!!

If your wondering why I keep mentioning Cast Lead (watch the videos) its because that operation left a lot of scars on Gaza and according to people on the ground in Gaza the biggest fear of Palestinian civilians is that another operation like it that effectively destroyed the already fragile economy is on the horizon.

*As I've explained repeatedly there actually is no internationally recognised definition of Terrorism, and looking at how the word is used throughout the world the only universal qualifier is that the group being called terrorist is an enemy of the people using the label. As a result I try to keep my usage of that term neutral as possible to avoid implications of support or opposition.

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