Increasing numbers of Qassam rocket attacks on Sderot are resulting in more casualties as either the Palestinians are getting better at launching on populated areas, or just better by the numbers of rockets launched. Whatever the reason, the recent attacks occurring over the weekend, in which two boys in the same family were both seriously injured, and may other people were treated for shock, appears to be pushing the IDF into some kind of ground engagement in Gaza.
The plans for a ground attack although potentially costly to Israeli soldiers is basically two-fold. Following the breach in the security fence and wall between Gaza and Egypt, a large amount of more sophisticated rockets (like Katyusha) and other military hardware were probably brought over from Egypt into the strip, which will eventually be used against Israeli civilian and military targets. A large scale ground attack will be aimed at gaining some form of control back over the Philadelphi crossing at Rafiah, where the border breach was made. Another reason for a ground attack is to try to wipe out the sources of the rocket launchings and possibly even capture some high ranking Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders; forcing these organizations to tone down their attacks.
Israel is already stepping up concentrated air strikes against those involved in planning and carrying out these missile attacks; and word is out that high ranking Hamas officials, including Ismail Haniyeh himself, may be targets. This policy has already been tried in the past when Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and former Hamas leader Abdel Azziz Rantisi were both “taken out” in this manner. Other ideas, including complete cutting off of Gaza from both water and electricity are also being considered; although it must be remembered that it was these forms of collective punishment that resulted in Hamas people blowing up the border barriers at Rafiah two weeks ago. Many of the more than half a millions Gazans who took advantage of this act to have a free tour of the Sinai are still over there and possibly planning future terror attacks against Israel.
Prime Minister Olmert, in the aftermath of the final published Winograd Report, is virtually standing with his back against the diplomatic wall as more and more people, including political officials, are calling on him to resign. The people of Sderot, in the wake of the severe Qassam rocket attacks, took to the streets, burning tires and other material and shouting for the P.M. to either take immediate action or quit.
Olmert is still hanging on to his position, but all indications are that he won’t be there for long. In the meantime, even though government officials like Defense Minister Ehud Barak promise that Israel will “use all available means to stop these attacks” the attacks themselves continue and the residents of this southern town of 20,000 are growing more and more impatient. “Why did you come here â€“ go homeâ€ they yell out at Barak and other visiting officials â€“ and for good reason!