Israel to Gaza: It’s On
posted at 12:02 pm on February 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
The Israelis have sent a warning to Gaza and its Hamas leadership after the latest rocket attack on Ashkelon. If the attacks continue, Israel will invade Gaza and conduct large-scale military operations to eliminate the threat:
Israeli leaders warned Friday of an approaching conflagration in the Gaza Strip as Israel activated a rocket warning system to protect Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people, from Palestinian rockets.Ashkelon was hit by several Grad rockets fired from Gaza on Thursday, a sign of the widening scope of violence between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. One hit an apartment building and another landed near a school, wounding a 17-year-old girl.
Located 11 miles from Gaza, Ashkelon had been sporadically targeted in the past but never suffered direct hits or significant damage.
“It will be sad, and difficult, but we have no other choice,” Matan Vilnai, Israel’s deputy defense mister, said Friday, referring to the large-scale military operation he said Israel was preparing to bring a halt to the rocket fire.
“We’re getting close to using our full strength. Until now, we’ve used a small percentage of the army’s power because of the nature of the territory,” Vilnai told Army Radio on Friday.
Israel had tried using softer methods to stop the attacks, including a lockdown on the border between Gaza and Israel. That resulted in a breakout at Rafah, which took the Egyptian government several days to resecure. Other nations had pressured Israel to end the embargo or at least loosen it for food, energy, and medical supplies, but the rocket attacks continue.
Hamas says that Israel’s return fire has killed 15 civilians and blames Israel for the rising tensions. Apart from the absurdity of blaming someone for hitting an aggressor in return, Hamas and other terrorist entities have no one but themselves to blame for civilian deaths. Even the AP acknowledges that Hamas launches its rockets from densely populated civilian centers, drawing fire onto their own people.
Israel cannot stand idle while terrorists rain rockets onto civilian populations, and the escalation to Ashkelon is a deliberate provocation by Hamas. The IDF has to take action, and this time it cannot be constrained by proportionality. They need a massive response to the Gaza provocateurs, one that leaves them no ground to hide. If Gaza’s civilian population wants to avoid that, then they need to rid themselves of the terrorists before Israel’s military does its work.