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Who Started It?
Let’s start with the facts. For the last year, the Palestinians have been launching missile attacks against Israel almost on a daily basis. No nation would tolerate such blatant violations of its territory, and Israel is legally justified in responding to these attacks with all means at her disposal. She is even entitled to argue that she shows admirable restraint by not responding with even greater force. These are the facts, and they can hardly be disputed.
Now let’s move on to opinions.
First there is the small matter of the Israeli blockade. Israel argues the blockade is justified, but she can hardly expect the Palestinians to accept this argument. Forty-five years ago, when Israel’s southernmost port was blockaded, she responded with a devastating attack that wiped out Egypt’s air force. If this was fair game, why do we doubt that the Palestinians see their missile campaign as a legitimate response to Israel’s blockade? But then, that’s just my opinion.
And now let’s return to more facts.
Over most of the last year, on a typical week the Palestinians have lobbed five or six projectiles into southern Israel. Prior to this October, there were exactly three escalations in the missile campaign. Following a tunnel strike on Feb. 11th in which a Palestinian was killed, there was a rather small barrage of half a dozen missiles a few days later. Following the March 9th targeted killing of Zuhair al Qaissi, there was a major barrage of some 300 missiles over the next week. And following a June 9th strike which killed two motor-bike riding activists (which was itself a retaliation for an earlier outrage in Haifa), the Palestinians responded with 100 missiles.
After each of these flare-ups, the situation reverted to the status quo within about a week. Then came the October 8th strike which killed Abdullah Maqawi and injured 11. This led to a massive missile barrage which did not quiet down until the end of the month. This was the lull before the storm.
Who started the latest round? November was quiet for about a week. On the fifth, a Gazan civilian was shot for approaching too close to the border. A rocket or two was fired, and the Israelis subsequently launched a cross-border raid, with a 13-year old boy dying in the crossfire. The next day the Gazans fired on a jeep patrolling the border, wounding four. An Israeli retaliatory strike misfired, killing 4 Gazans playing soccer and wounding 38. The Gazans let loose with massive rocket fire, and the Israelis hit back hard.
The next sequence of events is hard to interpret. There appears to have been a lull of over 24 hours around the 13th of November, with no missiles being launched. On the 14th we took out Ahmed Jabari. The Gazans responded with everything they had, targetting even Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The extent of Israel’s retaliation is well known. At the time of writing (Nov. 21st), a cease-fire has just been announced. Who knows if it will still be in effect if and when this article goes to press?
The chronology of events presented in this article was culled from the Wikipedia article “List of Palestinian Rocket Attacks on Israel, 2012. If I have mis-stated the facts as presented, or if I have been duped by mis-information, please let me know. The website seems to be one of ours, not theirs. If you find my chronology to be disturbing, take heart: all the facts you really need are contained in the very first paragraph of this article. The rest is just minor details.