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Tag: Qassam

Human Rights Watch Admits Hamas Rockets Are War Crime

Qassam LaunchHere’s something that’ll knock your socks off. Though, most Israelis this time of year don’t even wear socks – just sandals – so I guess Israelis just won’t be all that affected. That is, Human Rights Watch just published a report about Hamas’ rocket attacks since November ’08. And here go the socks: They actually said that firing the rockets was ILLEGAL, and VIOLATED INTERNATIONAL LAW and constitutes a “war crime”.

My question is, what about the years 2000-2007 when 23 Jews were killed by Qassam and mortar fire? Were those legal? Did international law suddenly change last November?

This eerily reminds me of 1991 back when the UN reversed its 1975 resolution that Zionism is Racism. Some Israelis were so ecstatic about that little reversal, though others just sat back and folded their arms. What is so earth shattering about the fact that the UN admits that Zionism is not racism if the Security Council, the world body responsible for maintaining world security, is going to admit Syria to its ranks, but forbid Israel from ever having a seat there? What’s the difference if the UN keeps singling out Israel for criticism?

And what is the significance of a Human Rights Watch report condemning Hamas for war crimes if, as we all know, Hamas couldn’t care less about human rights? The rockets will continue to fall whenever Hamas feels it’s had enough time to resuscitate itself, and the only reason they’ve stopped for now is that they’re scared. Not that they suddenly respect the idea of human rights.

Though these types of things are certainly nice and they make us feel better for about two minutes, they have very little relevance. The de facto Islamic government in Gaza does not care about international law. They care about liberating all of Palestine at all costs. As long as they have hope that they can do that, the rocket fire will never stop.

Cast Lead or Lead Weight?

Israeli foreign ministry spokesmen have blasted a UN report blaming the IDF for excessive damage to Palestinian and UN installations during the January Operation Cast Lead military conflict in Gaza. The report specifically mentioned damage and casualties sustained to a UN food and supply depot, where tons of rice, sugar and other foodstuffs were being stored, as well as medical supplies. Palestinian schools and other institutions shelled and bombed by the IDF were also mentioned as being targets during the 21 day operation.

Gaza War Hill of Shame (AP)

Gaza War Hill of Shame (AP)

Government and IDF spokesmen refuted these claims, saying that eyewitness accounts, as well as ground and aerial photos indicated that Palestinian fighters were either using these facilities to fire at IDF units or were shooting Qassam and other missiles at Israeli cities and settlements from them, as well as store arms and munitions. Due to the intense crowded conditions of these areas, if Palestinians were launching attacks from buildings located next to UN installations, or schools, hospitals and other facilities, it was very difficult to avoid hitting other buildings; as often was the case.

The apparent bias of the report, which appear to disregard Israeli claims that the IDF did not intentionally fire on UN and other high profile locations, indicates that Israel is getting the “short end of the stick” in regards to the UN’s apportionment of blame.

A letter sent by the Israeli government to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted specifically that the IDF did its utmost to coordinate all operations with UN personnel, and worked in close cooperation with UN inspection teams following the end of the fighting. It was noted in the letter that the UN inspection team is not a legal authority, and hence has no right to function in that capacity.

Hamas leaders were specifically pointed out as using violence and intimidation against the Palestinian population to prevent them from telling the truth as to what really happened during this time. This includes that fact that Hamas placed its men and military equipment in close proximity to these installations, in order to make it more difficult for the IDF when attacking Palestinian insurgents; something not mentioned in the U.N. report.

On matter that wasn’t brought up was the fact that foreign reporters were prevented from entering Gaza during the operation, and were forced to set up their news centers on a hill outside the border with Gaza; the hill subsequently being named “the hill of shame.” Undoubtedly, a number of these journalists, and their auxiliary crews, are alive and well today due to this fact. But of course, that’s another issue.

Phosphoric Situation

White phosphorus bombs are prohibited for use in civilian areas. They set buildings on fire and cause very severe burns that can burn a person alive.

There have been rumors lately that the IDF uses such bombs in the Gaza offensive. The IDF denies. The UN already wants to investigate the matter.

The “phosphorous front” got (literally) heated up this evening when a Hamas rocket containing phosphorous exploded in the Israeli desert. If this shell had fallen inside an urban landscape, it could have caused severe consequences.

Look at this photo taken by Reuters. Whether or not these are phosphoric explosions in the background, the whole scene looks Sci-Fi.

Gaza Bombing by Reuters

Gaza – The Information War

The war in Gaza and its surrounding Israeli cities is waging still, with no clear end in sight. Yet in this age of abundant technology and streaming information, there is also a propaganda war simultaneously going on via television networks, personal blogs, and YouTube videos. One enthusiastic even programmed a simple video game to demonstrate the war tactics, as he sees it.

This is a brief collection of home-made videos, news briefings, and the aforementioned notorious game.

Danny Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN speaks about the war, 12/28/08:

“Raid Gaza” Flash Game – Gain Extra Points for Bombing a Hospital:

Annie Lennox on the Humanitarian perspective:

Qassams on Europe, a fictional cartoon:

2 Qassams are launched while CNN’s Paula Hancocks reports from the border:

When the alarm goes off, people in Sderot have 15 seconds to find cover:

Life in Beer Sheva

It’s a terrifying sound. I remember hearing it during the first Gulf War. You close yourself in a room, and pray the alarm ends without a shocking boom. Complete helplessness.

The Missiles Are Not Sophisticated, Israel is Simply Miniscule

For the first time ever, Palestinian rockets have reached the city of Be’er-Sheva. Until today, Be’er-Sheva was never being regarded as a “border town”. If you look at the map of Israel, it sits right at the center of the map. It is also the seventh largest city in Israel.

Beer Sheva

But the truth is Be’er Sheva is less than 40 KM (25 Miles) away from the Gaza Strip (situated to the left of the map, by the sea). That’s all: 40 KM. In a country so small, the “home front” is merely a tiny bubble — one that is liable to burst anytime.

On the other side: if Israel is only a tiny line on the global map, well, Gaza is an invisible dot, where there is no “home front” at all.

When 2 hostile nations are packed together inside a tiny patch of land, the conflict affects everyone, anywhere.

Qassam Range by the Home Front Command

Qassam Range by the Home Front Command

Qassam Rockets — Until When?

These numbers don’t include statistics from December 2008 (this month).

Can you imagine the US, France, or India being hit by several hundred rockets a year? Can you imagine them being hit by even a single one?!

I’m not saying I have a solution for this situation. I’m just saying it’s unthinkable.

Israeli Fertilizer in Qassam Rockets

Hat Tip: Abba | Pictures: Spiegel Online

Israeli Fertilizer in Kassam RocketsI got this in the email and probably never would have come across it, but its definitely worth a read. This is an article called A Visit to a Gaza Rocket Factory and I selected these excerpts…

The vehicle finally stops at a dirt track. The Islamic Jihad rocket factory is housed in a kind of garden shed. The hut measures five meters by five meters, metal pipes with small wings lean against the wall in the corner: Half finished Qassams. There are several tightly packed garbage bags on a shelf. “TNT,” says Abdul and produces a chunk. The explosive looks like lumpy sugar. A large cauldron is sitting ready on a gas cooker while bags with Hebrew writing are piled up high up against the wall. “Fertilizer for the rocket fuel,” Abdul says and grins. “We get it in Israel.”

The team can make up to 100 rockets per night shift, but today it won’t be more than 10. Instead of the usual 12, only three of Abdul’s men have turned up tonight. “The other guys are over in Egypt, shopping”

Qassam Rockets“The TNT comes to us from Sudan via Egypt.” Other elements arrive by boat across the sea to Gaza. “We get some from Eastern Europe.” The raw materials for one large rocket cost up to €500. The money to finance the operation comes the same route as the materials. “The Israeli blockade doesn’t affect us; it’s just intended to plunge the people into misery.”

A cauldron full of fuel is set on it, and one of the men stirs in a lump of golden syrup, while the others weigh the fertilizer, which contains nitrate. They explain that the nitrate has to be mixed very slowly with the sugar solution. “The thing is highly explosive.” Abdul admits that many of his friends have suffered severe burns or lost fingers. He shrugs his shoulders: “There is a local saying in Gaza: He who cooks poison has to also try it.”

Over tea on the porch Abdul tells of his career as a rocket maker. A few hours of theory, then he and his friends did their apprenticeship with an experienced rocket builder. He doesn’t want to explicitly say it, but it seems as if he also trained abroad. “I was in Syria, Jordan and one other country,” he says. In Iran? Abdul smiles slightly.

Back to Kassam School in Sderot

The beleaguered Israeli town Sderot, only a ‘stones throw’ or in this case, a Qassam rocket launch away from Gaza, “celebrated” the new school year today, September 3, being once again under a barrage of Palestinian launched Qassam rockets. When it had been announced earlier by local municipal authorities that the town of 15,000 would start the 2007/08 school year like every other Israeli community, their “neighbors” in the Hamas led Palestinian Gaza Strip decided otherwise. These “good neighbors” shot not less than 7 home made missiles into Israel, one of them actually striking a kindergarten and sending more than 20 children to hospital for treatment from severe trauma and shock.

The afternoon news broadcasts, showing scores of Sderot residents and police scurrying for the shelters, was a sad reminder that this type of harassment is far from over. Despite Prime Minister Olmert appearing on television with a warning that these kind of incidents will not be tolerated by Israel, it can only be wondered if the Palestinians will take Mr. Olmert seriously. Most likely, they will not.

Previous retaliations against Palestinian terror groups who are involved in this kind of activity have not been very effective; and even if several key terrorists are ‘taken out’ by selective “culling”, there are plenty more volunteers to eagerly take their place. I say eagerly, because it must be understood by all that not only are these people (the Palestinians) not afraid to die, they look forward to the “opportunity” to become ‘Holy Martyrs’ for their cause.

Israeli communities like Sderot and several smaller towns and settlements, including kibbutzim, which lie near the border with Gaza, will most likely continue to suffer these attacks; and larger communities like Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat may soon be targeted as well. It’s no secret that Hamas and other groups have been smuggling many varieties of weapons and explosives into Gaza; and longer range rockets may be part of this new arsenal. Even benevolent people like Arkady Gaydamak won’t be able to do much to alleviate the suffering of the people in areas under fire.

Recently, exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal stated that relations between the Palestinians and Israel cannot improve as long as the Israeli military continues to “massacre” innocent Palestinian civilians. What Mr. Mashaal means by this term is puzzling as the IDF tries very hard to minimize civilian casualties among the Palestinians despite unfortunate incidents such as the deaths of three Palestinian children during a recent IDF military operation. With Palestinians having some of the most densely populated cities and towns in the world, it’s no wonder that occasionally some Palestinians are caught in the line of fire – especially when many Kassam rocket attacks occur from within densely populated areas.

Such is the reality of “back to school” in both the P.A. and some Israeli communities; especially Sderot.

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