Analysis: Hamas´s barrage in Gaza: Prelude or just a sideshow? (JERUSALEM POST) By ARIEH O´SULLIVAN 05/22/05)
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The sudden barrage of mortars and Kassam rockets fired by the
Palestinians from the Gaza Strip last week was not a prelude to the
It is the price Israel is paying for the current leadership dispute
between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, angered at a court
decision in Rafah which nullified the results of municipal elections
in three precincts where Hamas candidates won, was eager to flex its
muscles. The easiest target was the Jewish settlements in Gush Katif.
The IDF had expected this shower of mortar shells and Kassam rockets.
The fact that it was able to observe a mortar squad in real time and
then strike it from the air reveals just how much progress the IDF
has made in addressing this elusive threat. It also shows the
enormous gap between the primitive, homemade weapons in the hands of
the Palestinians and the advanced, lethal technology of the IDF. That
said, it is extremely difficult to detect all the mortars.
The army released footage of Palestinians firing a mortar on Gush
Katif. According to the IDF, the decision to fire a missile at the
mortar team came only after it was observed that Palestinian police
standing nearby did nothing to halt the mortar squad and thus allowed
the so-called cease-fire to be violated.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz´s orders to the IDF were to continue
striking at any attempt to launch attacks on Israelis, but also to
contain the conflict.
This round of conflagration was not a harbinger of things to come
when the disengagement begins in August. The IDF is way ahead of the
game and its plan of operation is based on shaping reality, not
reacting to it. At the drawing board stage, it was determined that
the Palestinians would likely abandon all cease-fire agreements and
do their utmost for the pullout to be carried out "under fire."
Bearing this scenario in mind, the IDF is planning to preempt the
Palestinians. It has allocated tens of thousands of troops to
reconquer large swaths of the Palestinian areas from which an attack
could be launched at the evacuees.
Likud MK Yuval Steinitz´s call Thursday for a "Defensive Shield" type
operation in Gaza was premature. The massive army action in the Gaza
Strip will come, but on the IDF´s terms. In the meantime, the policy
is not to take measures that will upset the cease-fire, but to reply
decisively to terrorist attacks.
For the moment, however, the initiative remains in the hands of Hamas.
(© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 05/22/05)
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