After 822 rockets were fired so far this year (yesterday’s number), and 138 in the last day or so, Israel has responded with an offensive operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza. This military operation, codenamed Pillar of Defense, has included airstrikes and targeted attacks against terrorists.
Israel’s first major public move in its counter-offensive to the increase in Hamas rockets was a targeted air strike against a major Hamas leader. The air strike killed Ahmed Jabari, the senior commander of Hamas’ military wing, the Ezzidine Al-Qassam Brigades.
Jabari was responsible for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, firing countless rockets into Israel, and leading the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip after Israel withdrew in 2005.
Jabari was a terrorist responsible for many murders and injuries, and his death is welcome. However, a Hamas spokesperson said that by assassinating this terrorist, Israel had “opened the gates of hell.”
Rocket Attacks Increased
True to its word, Hamas airstrikes increased dramatically the day after the assassination of Hamas’ top military commander. Nearly 200 rockets have seen been fired at Israeli civilians (not military facilities or leaders) by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other armed terrorist groups in Gaza. Note, 200 is just a small subset of the 800 rockets fired into Israel this year. Israel exercised maximum restraint as terrorists tried to murder its citizens.
Unlike the last major conflict, Operation Cast Lead, Hamas has more powerful and longer range rockets than before. Rockets are now landing just south of Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest population center. Hamas is believed to have long range Fajar rockets, which could reach Tel Aviv from Gaza.
Last night, a rocket struck an apartment building in Kiryat Malakhi killing three innocent Israelis.
US Support and Israel Response
Israel responded to this escalation as it should. It has launched additional airstrikes targeted at terrorist leaders and rocket launchers. The strikes have targeted Beit Lahia, where two terrorists were killed, Gaza City, where Jabari was killed, and other areas where Israel has attempted to assassinate other military leaders.
While Hamas continues to fire rockets at civilians, Israel specifically targets terrorists. Recently re-elected President Barack Obama has stood up for Israel’s right to self-defense. The US State Department issued this statement: “We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”
UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon urged both Israel and Hamas to use restraint.
Media Bias Against Israel
I find it fascinating and infuriating to see how the media has responded. In the United States, the looming fiscal cliff and former CIA head David Petraeus’ affair remain the front page stories.
The New York Times writes headlines about the “Israeli Air Assault on Gaza.” You have to read a bit into the article to see any mention of rocket attacks. The new source mentions that “At least 20 targets were hit in Israel’s fiercest attack against Gaza since its invasion in late 2008,” but does not mention the 800 rockets fired this year or the 200 over the last day.
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette headline states “Military Chief of Hamas Slain in Wide Israeli Attack on Gaza.” You have to read far into the article to see anything about the rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Another War, The Same Story
We will all keep our eyes on the news and our hearts with Israel over the coming days to see how the current conflict evolves. I pray for the safety of Israeli civilians and the young men and women in the IDF defending Israel from the terrorist onslaught.