Sunday, November 18, 2012

18-Nov-12: Contemplating rockets

Rockets in Gaza City: Iran's government controlled news media carried this picture on November 14, 2012 prior to the Israeli attack on Gaza in a news report praising  what it calls 'Palestinian resistance fighters"
The EU-funded GANSO website continues, as it has for a long time, to refer to those deadly Gazan missiles as HMRs. This peculiar choice of acronym evidently stands for "home made rockets", even though it's likely some proportion of them are actually imported to the Gaza Strip from Iran. 

Whatever the real motivation of the GANSO people when they call them HMRs, these things are very different from home-made cookies and home-made soup. Consider what the reaction would be if the Israeli side took the Brussels-funded 'activists' and their terminology and motivations at face value. Meaning if these deadly missiles really are home-made, and if GANSO's statistics are right and they're fired into Israel by the hundreds, perhaps the right response to the home-made weapons is to focus the IDF's massive fire power on the homes that make them. Imagine the devastation if that were Israel's strategy; plainly it's not, as the relatively small number of casualties so far attests. 

We have commented here several times about the revelations that appear almost daily in the GANSO bulletins about rockets that are fired by the Gazans and fall short. In simple terms, these are rockets that fail to cross the border and end up crashing onto the heads and homes of the Palestinian Arabs who live in the areas adjacent to the border. Some have been killed, many have been injured, and it's all self-inflicted. This has been happening since the Gazan rocket campaign against Israeli civilians began in 2005

Now here's the interesting thing. Though the numbers of rockets being flung (it's the right word) at Israelis by the terrorist gangs of Gaza has risen exponentially since Wednesday, the GANSO bulletins don't seem to have noted even a single "fall short" since then. Suddenly, all the missiles are successfully getting over the border and hitting their Israeli targets.

That's very likely nonsense. If the Gazans have one fall-short for every 3, 4, 8 or 9 (and there is some fresh indication, but whatever the actual number is) of the rockets they fire at Israel, then there must have been many dozens such fall-shorts in the past four days: dozens of rockets falling onto the homes and heads of Palestinian Arab subjects of the jihadist Hamas regime. Keep the thought in mind when casualty figures for dead and injured Palestinians are next published. Also bear in mind the proven history of cruel contempt that the Hamas elite have demonstrated over the years for their brothers and sisters. This video, not new but timely and still accurate, conveys some of that.

The Christian Science Monitor reminds us of how different the Hamas rocket strategy is from Israel's:
Israel insists its targeting is precise and focused on militants. Hamas makes no such claim, and, in fact, can't; the rockets fired from Gaza are the very definition of indiscriminate, hugely imprecise and more likely to kill civilians than anyone else.
We offer some strategic insights now into those Gazan Palestinian Arab rockets, drawn from a fresh Stratfor Global Intelligence analysis report:
  • Gaza may be manufacturing long-range rockets locally. If this is the case, a significant ground force offers the Israelis the best chance of finding and neutralizing the factories making these weapons. The Israeli Cabinet on Nov. 16 approved Defense Minister Ehud Barak's request to call up 75,000 reservists, significantly more than during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. 
  • The Israeli army meanwhile is strengthening its presence on the borders with Gaza. Primary roads leading to Gaza and running parallel to Sinai have been declared closed military zones. 
  • Tanks, armored personnel carriers, self-propelled artillery and troops continue to stream to the border, and many units already appear to be in position.
  • The Israeli air force remained active throughout the night of Nov. 16-17, striking at targets across the Gaza Strip including key Hamas ministries, police stations and tunnels near the border crossing with Egypt. 
  • The IAF reportedly carried out strikes in Rafah's al-Sulan and al-Zahour neighborhoods, as well as east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp. According to IDF reports, the air force carried out a rapid and coordinated military strike, targeting approximately 70 underground medium-range rocket-launching sites in the less than an hour. The IDF claims direct hits were confirmed. 
  • The IAF will increasingly target Hamas militant defenses ahead of any ground invasion. Already the IAF has bombed militant defensive positions, particularly in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
  • Startfor's figures show that Gazan rockets launched AT Israel on Saturday were about 80. About 57 actually landed in Israel. It quotes the IDF saying 640 rockets were launched against us since November 14, with 410 actually landing. Those that did not are (we presume - Stratfor does not say this) either intercepted in mid-air or - as we noted above - fell short
  • It quotes an IDF statement that Iron Dome interceptors have so far successfully stopped 90 percent of the rockets "though this may be an exaggeration". Or not.
On the subject of made-in-Gaza rockets versus the imported kind, Stratfor explains why this will affect Israel's decision to execute a land-based attack, which so far has not happened:
"Beyond rocket launch sites and caches, which Israel is currently targeting with its airstrikes, it would need to target production sites and those who would be responsible for manufacturing the rockets. Furthermore, it will be significantly harder for Israeli intelligence to form an accurate picture of the number of these rockets locally constructed in Gaza... Israeli intelligence likely did not anticipate how many long-range rockets had escaped its first wave of strikes, and the fact that Hamas may have been producing these weapons could explain Israel's lack of complete information. Hamas recognizes that these long-range rocket attacks have only increased the likelihood and intensity of an Israeli ground incursion. A significant ground force offers the Israelis the best chance of finding and neutralizing the factories making these long-range rockets as well as the shorter-range Qassams. Hamas and the other militants therefore are actively preparing their defenses for the anticipated incursion and are likely laying improvised explosive devices, setting up road blocks and defensive emplacements and sorting out their ranks and tasks."
On Saturday afternoon, the propaganda apparatus of Hamas put out a Twitter tweet that reflects both its leadership's malevolently messianic mindset and its undiminished appetite for inventing realities for consumption by (we assume) its fans:
"Al Qassam's operation #ShaleStones is going well in achieving historic goals, Liberation of occupied #Palestine started...we are coming #IDF
We have reason to believe the IDF leadership will be waiting and watching.

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