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Israel's Zero Tolerance For Gaza Rocketing

Israel Signals Zero Tolerance For Fresh Rocketing Attacks From Gaza

IDF Gen.(ret) Yitzak Ben Yisrael: 'New Iron Dome Missile Defense Is World Class Achievement That Will Soon Provide Enhanced Protection For Israeli Civilians Within Rocket Range Of Gaza'

Why Have Israeli Airlines Not Introduced Full Body Screening Checks?

Qassam rocket launchers (Photo: IDF)

Palestinian terrorists in Gaza escalated their rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians this week - the Israeli response came within hours with pin-point air strikes. On Gaza's southern border, Egyptian security forces also repulsed Palestinians rioters who stormed the border area in protest over Egypt's blocking of the arms smuggling tunnels. In another milestone, Israel has uncovered 'Iron Dome', a state-of-the art missile defense system designed to intercept Kassam rockets fired at Israeli population centers from Gaza. Analyst David Essing also has some thoughts on the outcome of the failed Al-Qaeda attempt to blow up an American airliner and the reaction of U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Israeli aircraft that raided military targets in Gaza signaled Israel's 'zero tolerance' for any attempt to renew the rocketing of Israeli civilians. That was Israel's response to the escalation in Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks that again sounded air-raid sirens in Israeli towns and villages just over the border and which sent thousands of Israeli civilians again scurrying into bomb shelters. Just before 8 o'clock Thursday morning and later Thursday night, Palestinians launched some seven or more mortars and rockets into Israel, one as far as the Ashkelon area. Incredibly, the terrorists even tried to hit the Kerem Shalom entry terminal to Gaza, and actually prevented 70 Israeli trucks from delivering meat, dairy products and agricultural produce for Palestinians in Gaza! No Israeli casualties nor damage were sustained in the sporadic Palestinian attacks that followed a period of 'relative' quiet since the IDF's Cast Lead Operation into Gaza early last year to suppress the rocketing. ( Last week terrorists launched a GRAD missile at the Israeli town of Nativot - and later an Israeli helicopter killed two terrorists who were preparing to launch more rockets into Israel.

In Thursday night's air raids, at least three Palestinian terrorists were reportedly killed and several others were wounded when the Israeli aircraft hit three arms smuggling tunnels along the Gaza border with Egypt as well as a rocket work-shop in Gaza. Before the air strikes, Israeli aircraft dropped thousands of leaflets warning Palestinian non- combatants about the danger of the terrorists building arms- smuggling tunnels near or under their homes and also not to come within three meters of the Israeli border fence that would endanger their lives. The IDF spokesman disclosed that another tunnel hit was being dug under Israel's security fence with the aim of carrying out another cross border attack that captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The warning was apparently meant to deter Palestinian demonstrators from marching up to the Israeli frontier and repeating their storming of the Egyptian border that resulted in one Egyptian policeman being shot dead. The Palestinian rage was vented on the Egyptians' current project of driving down steel pylons along the frontier with Gaza to block the smuggling of weapons into Gaza for attacks on Israel. President Mubarak has apparently realized finally the inherent threat of radical Hamas, an Iranian forward base on his frontier; Mubarak has his own fanatical Muslim Brotherhood to to cope with at home. Therefore, Mubarak through his trusty intelligence chief, Gen. Omar Suleiman has invested no little time and effort into trying to forge a Palestinian prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit while trying to persuade West Bank Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to drop his prior conditions for returning to peace talks with Israel.

IRON DOME: A unique Israeli rocket defense system to go operational this spring. The 'Iron Dome' project has tested out with excellent results and is expected to prevent a long waited defense system for the more than ten - thousand Kassam rockets from Gaza have have terrorized Israeli civilians for over eight years. Produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the weapon can not only identify incoming rockets but determine whether they will hit populated areas and if so launch and intercept them in the air. The rockets that pose no threat would be allowed to blow up harmlessly on impact. IDF Gen ( ret.) Yitzak Ben Yisrael, a professor of Strategic Studies, has called Iron Dome a ' world class technological achievement developed within only two years'. Its capability to determine whether incoming rocket will land in a populated area is of immense importance because the vast majority of the home-made Kassams explode in open field and even inside Gaza itself after being launched. Moreover, from the point of cost-effectiveness, each Iran Dome interceptor costs tens of thousands of dollars. Incidentally, U.S. Homeland Security reportedly plans to send a special team to Israel to study the 'Iron Dome' success. Another American delegation has arrived to persuade Israel to investigate the circumstances of how five Palestinian civilians were killed during the IDF's Cast Lead operation. Headed by Assistant Secretary Michael Posner, the senior State Department official dealing with human rights, reportedly said that such an Israeli enquiry would assist Israel in refuting the Goldstone allegations that the IDF had deliberately killed Palestinian civilians. On publication of the UN's Goldstone Report the U.S. described it has having a 'flawed mandate'- it was set up by the pro-Arab Human Rights Council of the UN that spends the vast majority of its time and energy bashing Israel. Yet Posner's arrival however, good-intentioned appeared bizarre when one considers the hundreds of civilians being killed almost daily in Afghanistan by U.S. and NATO forces in what is termed 'collateral damage'. In any event, Israel is carrying out another important defensive move - the distribution of gas masks to the population and major civil defense exercises involving an attack by non-conventional weapons. Like the U.S., and considering the nature of the threat by Islamist terrorists be they in Iran, Lebanon, Syria or Gaza, Israel has decided to close any loopholes in her defense shield.

Oddly enough, full body screening has not been introduced for Israeli airline flights; it could be that religious and ultra-orthodox Jewish passengers might object vehemently to such a procedure or perhaps could Israeli security experts have devised other equally effective but less invasive of personal intimacy than full body screening?

Gilad Shalit

Cpl.Gilad Shalit: After weeks of soul- searching, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has decided there is a limit to what Israel can risk in a prisoner exchange for captured IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Netanyahu has instructed his mediator Hagai Adass not to budge - Israel rejects the Hamas demand that hard core prisoners be permitted to return to the West Bank after being freed by Israel. The assessment by Shabak Security Chief Yuval Diskin that the influx of such terrorists could spark a full blown Palestinian uprising, intifada, was something the PM could not ignore. (All the more so, with the Iran file still open and Israel on standby). Therefore it is now up to Hamas to decide whether Netanyahu is bluffing or not. For its part, the Hamas regime, now feeling the pinch from Egypt, is also eager for the prisoner exchange to boost its prestige in the Palestinian camp and in its rivalry with Mahmoud Abbas. Diskin had also stated that a prisoner exchange that included Hamas 'heavy-weights' would pose a severe blow to Abbas and boost Hamas popularity not only in Gaza, but also on the West Bank.

PRESIDENT OBAMA ON WORLD STAGE: Faced with the harsh realities of Afghanistan, Iran and now Yemen U.S. President Barack Obama sounded a different tone in articulating his foreign affairs and defense policies. First, in his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance speech about 'just wars' and now after the failed attempt to blow up an American airliner 'We are at war! We will do whatever it takes to defeat them!' Indeed if not for the brave and alert passenger who dove on Al-Qaeda terrorist Abdul Mutallab, the 289 passengers and crew on board Delta flight #253 would have been blown out of the sky in the worst atrocity since 9/11. President Obama has spoken of a 'systemic ' failure to apprehend or at least to bar the suspected terrorist from boarding the airliner rather than blaming any one individual or agency in Homeland Security.This raises the question of how and why crucial appointees are selected in democratic societies particularly those in the war on terrorism. Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and former Governor of Arkansas would appear to have minimal or marginal experience in running counter- terrorism operations. When the system fails, if the people at the bottom are not to blame it stands to reason that the people at the top, who planned the system , should bear responsibility for a systemic failure that could have killed nearly 300 people.

For her part, Israel has paid dearly for appointing a politician with little professional experience to a senior security position. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, perhaps also for political reasons, appointed Labor party leader Amir Peretz as his defense minister before the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Israel paid with the lives of 168 soldiers and civilians. Then again in the faulty conduct of that war, even Lt.Gen. Dan Halutz, a brilliant Israel Air Force commander, proved inept in his handling of the ground operations essential for defeating the Hezbollah guerrillas. The conclusion is that even a superb candidate, with a proven professional record, may sometimes lack some vital aspect of professional and/or personal skills that lead to failure, systemic or otherwise. (It should be acknowledged that Amir Peretz, during his tenure as defense minister, initiated the Iron Dome project in the face of opposition from some quarters in the IDF and within the defense ministry).

David Essing

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