Where's This Palestinian Fire Power Coming From?
Israeli aircraft struck two camps used by the Islamic militant group Hamas today, a day after a Palestinian rocket attack killed an Israeli woman, and officials suggested even Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas could be a target.That happens to AP via the LATimes. So the Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel again. Big deal ... happens all the time.
No, not like this. The Palestinians have stepped it up to such a degree that Sderot, the Israeli town near the Gaza border that is the usual target of the rockets, has been evacuated. Big deal? You bet! The residents of Sderot have never had to evacuate before.
Today's WashTimes has an excellent story on how bad it is there. Here are a couple excerpts:
SDEROT, Israel -- Buses filled with evacuees are fleeing this tiny city adjacent to the Gaza Strip each day, amid a weeklong barrage of rocket fire from Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad that has given Sderot the feel of a ghost town.The Qassam rockets, named after a jihadist Palestinian from the 1920's, have become increasingly sophisticated, according to Global Security.
"The city is abandoned, and the citizens are in a crisis," said municipal spokesman Yossi Cohen, who estimated that about 10,000 locals, or about half the population, are already gone. "They are scared. They want to rest, until the government makes a decision to solve this."
In seven years of being on the front line of Palestinian missile attacks, Sderot residents have never evacuated until now. But over the past week, they've borne the brunt of 180 missiles that have become more precise and deadly.
On Monday, Sderot resident Shirel Friedman was killed when a Qassam rocket hit her parked car in the town's commercial center -- the first Israeli civilian victim in a week of escalating cross-border violence.
Days of frustration then poured out into the streets as residents burned tires and chanted anti-government slogans and "death to Arabs." ...
The buses continued to leave Sderot yesterday afternoon, just hours ahead of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. A troupe of clowns set up shop in the city center to entertain the children staying behind.
"People are being evacuated to Jerusalem and Tiberias. They don't want to stay behind because you can't celebrate the holiday. You can't even go out to shop for groceries," said an 11-year-old boy named David. "We need security. It's a disgrace."
The town has an emergency system that alerts residents to incoming rockets, but because of the short distance from northern Gaza to Sderot, there are only about 20 seconds to find cover.
"I'm sick of running. I feel like a cockroach," said Chaim Cohen, a waiter at a grill restaurant in the city center. "We wait, and we pray."
Numerous variants of the Qassam rocket have been developed and launched. The Qassam-1, first used in October 2001, had a maximum range of approximately 3-4.5km. The rocket was approximately 60mm in diameter and weighed about 5.5kg. The Qassam-2, used primarily from 2002-2005 was approximately 180cm long, had a maximum range of 8-9.5km and could carry a payload of 5-9kg. Beginning in 2005, newer types of Qassam rockets known as the Qassam-3 were developed, possessing a maximum range of 10-12km and carrying a payload of 10-20kg. Since September 2005, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades developed a Qassam rocket with a maximum range of 15-16.5km range and two rockets with diameters of approximately 115mm and 155mm, respectively. Additionally, in June 2006 and again in July 2006 the Brigades fired a Qassam rocket equipped with two engines.They've never fired this many with this much firepower before. They've never had this many rockets, this muc: Palestinian know-how or a pan-Arabic desire to exterminate Israel?
My bet: A little of the former, a lot of the latter.