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700,000 Israelis in Bomb Shelters

Seven Hundred Thousand Israeli Civilians Forced Into Bomb Shelters For Third Consecutive Day As Rocket Barrage Continued From Gaza

IDF (res.)Gen. Giora Eiland: 'Another IDF Land Operation Into Gaza Is Inevitable, If Rocketing Does Not Cease Within Few Days'

IsraCast Assessment: If Most Children Had Not Got Off School Bus Before It was Rocketed, It Would Have Turned Into An Israeli '9/11'

The Iron Dome system deployed in the Israeli city of Be'er Sheba

 What would be a 'proportional' Israeli response to the Hamas attempt to murder and maim dozens of Israeli children in a school bus traveling near the border with Gaza? In the ongoing war of terror being launched by Palestinians in Gaza, the deliberate missile attack on the school bus is a new flash point - the IDF is not only avenging the missile strike but also seeking to deter it in the future. Since the bus atrocity on April 7th, the IDF has responded with air and artillery strikes over the border and the terrorists have been firing rockets day and night forcing 700,000 Israeli children, women and men to remain in or near their bomb shelters.

 Both sides of the Israeli Gaza border have erupted into a combat zone with no end in sight at this moment. On April 7th, terrorists sparked the worst flareup since Israel's Cast Lead operation into Gaza over two years ago, to suppress the relentless rocketing of Israeli civilians. Hamas gunmen launched a high-powered and deadly anti-tank rocket at a yellow Israeli school bus. It is hard to imagine the horrendous consequences if some thirty Israeli children had not got off the bus shortly before. Make no mistake, it would have turned immediately into an Israeli '9/11'! The public outcry would have been so loud, that no Israeli government could have refrained from launching all-out war against Gaza, even if it had wanted to.

Hamas terrorists firing rockets

As it is a sixteen year old youth is still fighting for his life in Beer Sheva's Soroka Hospital. The young man, the sole passenger at the time, was critically injured in the head, when the anti-tank missile smashed into the back of the school bus. The laser guided Kornet, that knocked out a number of Israeli tanks during the Second Lebanon War, was fired by Hamas terrorists just over the border in Gaza. The driver, who was lightly hurt, succeeded in carrying the youth off the bus before paramedics rushed to the scene.

It was not the first time that Palestinians had deliberately targeted a yellow school bus known all over the world as a sanctuary for school children. But it was the first time since Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005, that they dared attack an Israeli school bus.

Qassam rocket in Sderot

Israeli aircraft, tanks and artillery responded by striking terror targets in Gaza, where the terrorists actually exploit their own children as human shields. On a trip to Prague, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared: 'The terror attack on the school has crossed a red line. For those who try to murder children, their blood be on their heads!' In this context, Hamas has taken responsibility for the attack, after which Hamas leader Ismail Haniya had the temerity to call for an immediate ceasefire. Hamas military chief Ahmad Jabari is reported to have personally ordered the missile attack on the school bus. With rockets, mortar rounds and shells flying across the Israeli- Gaza border, 700,000 Israeli civilians have been ordered to remain in or within fifteen seconds of their bomb shelters. On April 9th, IDF Gen.(res.)Giora Eiland told Israel Radio that if rocketing from Gaza did not halt 'within a few days', the government would have no alternative but to launch another massive ground operation into Gaza. Education Minister Gideon Saar, who has sent a message to education ministers abroad calling on them to condemn the attack on the school bus, has said all options are on the table. At the same time, the government was carefully calculating its steps while 'dealing a very severe blow to Hamas'. On this score, the IDF Gen.Tal Russo, who is in command of the Gaza theater, has spoken of sending a 'searing' message to deter Hamas from rocketing Israeli civilians or to never again fire an anti- tank missile at an Israeli school bus.

In the midst of the conflagration, Israel's new 'Iron Dome' anti- missile system recently deployed opposite Gaza has performed with flying colors. So far it has identified and shot down seven GRAD missiles on target for the towns of Ashkelon and Beer Sheva. Obviously, it is a great boost to Israel's morale in the midst of its counter-terror campaign. Only two batteries of the super-sophisticated system have been produced but now that it has proven its effectiveness, more Iron Domes will likely be rushed into production.

P.S. - A Palestinian source has now claimed that Hamas commander Ahmad Jabari decided to escalate his attacks in opposition to the position of the Hamas political leadership in Gaza and Damascus. The source added that Hamas leader Ismail Haniya even accused Jabari of suffering from a case of 'megalomania'. Jabari was said to have been angry over Israel's killing of his friend last week, who was in charge of smuggling weapons from Sinai into Gaza. The Hamas commander believed that Israel would launch another Cast Lead operation into Gaza. However it may be that Hamas is getting Israel's grim message and three days after the school bus attack, Hamas may have opted to deescalate the situation by shifting all the blame to a 'renegade' commander.

David Essing

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