The Gruesome terror attack on Israel Today

Update: Popular Resistance Committee is responsible for this terror attack. Israel claims to have killed some of its’ higher ranks in an air strike near the Phildelphi Route (close to the Gaza-Sinai border). Rockets have being fired towards Israel’s Ashkelon. The Iron Dome defense system has intercepted one of these rockets, headed towards populated civilian areas.

Photograph by: Eliad Levi

A few short hours ago, the biggest terror attack Israel has seen in Years took place. At this time, not much is known about this attack near the Israel-Egypt border, but some things are more than certain. At I am writing this, Israeli media is reporting 7 Israelis dead, almost 30 wounded and hopefully all terrorists killed in gunfire battles with Israel’s military and police.

The Sinai Peninsula after the fall of Hosni Mubarak

Earlier this week, Egypt moved military forces into the Sinai Peninsula (which borders both Israel and the Gaza Strip) in an operation called “The Eagle”. Its’ objective was to capture and dismantle terror cells. This was probably motivated by the fifth time the gas line between Egypt and Israel (carrying gas to both Israel and Jordan) has been blown up. Whether or not there was real intelligence to this specific attack, I cannot tell, but the fact is that ever since the uprising against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Sinai Peninsula has become a point of instability. During the uprising, Mubarak has enabled a prison break that allowed, among the many Egyptian criminals, terrorists sitting in Egyptian prisons to break out. Some of them have made it to the Gaza Strip, others have remained in the Peninsula.

map of the Israeli-Egypt border near the Sinai Peninsula from Google Maps

Every few months Israel is issuing a travel warning to Israelis regarding the Peninsula. The instability is not new. However, since the fall of the Hosni Mubarak and the movement of police forces from the peninsula towards more populated areas inside Egypt in an attempt to enforce some sort of public order, along with the prison breakout, has left Sinai an ideal location for terror groupings.

The use of the Sinai Peninsula in order to execute terror attacks against Israel is not new. On August 2nd, 2010, terrorists from the Gaza Strip has moved through the tunnels in the strip towards the peninsula and fired rockets and Israel’s tourism hotspot of Eilat. Most of the rockets have landed in the Red sea, with two making it all the way to Jordan’s tourism hotspot, Aqaba, and killing one Jordanian resident. While the most deadly, this was not the only attack by Gaza militants towards Israel.

This was not done by Hamas. Nevertheless, they are not absolved

This was not a terror attack carried out by Hamas. Though, Hamas, a terror organization who forcibly seized control of Gaza in July of 2007, has been firing rockets at Israel for over a decade now, and its’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel, the slaughter of all Jews (“Itbah El Yahud”) and the forming of an fundamentalist Islamic Palestine over all the territory of Israel, he is not responsible for this terror attack.

Why? First of all, because the fall of Hosni Mubarak has played to its’ advantage. The newly formed martial law in Egypt has been much more flexible. It has stopped the building of a fence to block the tunnels from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai Peninsula and opened up Rafah crossings (for people, not goods which still travel through the Israeli Ein-Karem crossing) to name a few. Moreover, the Israeli operation to stop the firing of rockets into Israel in December of 2008, the “Case Lead Operation” (known as the “Gaza War” in many other places) has deterred them. Not completely, but most of the time efficiently.

That deterrence is the void where even more extremists grow. According to Israel’s estimations, 16 different terror organizations reside within the Gaza Strip. On Match 15th, 2011, Israel’s army captured the ship “Victoria” which carried massive amounts of weapons sent by the Iranian government to be transported to these organizations through The Sinai Peninsula. They have been gaining, as well as Hamas, much more weapons and much deadlier. One of them is even responsible for the firing of an anti-missile rocket at a school bus on April 10th, 2011, another is responsible for the death of an Italian human rights activists in the Gaza Strip, Vitorio Argioni, on April 15th, 2011.

These organizations resent Hamas’s deterrence and believe it is not firm and determined enough in it’s battle to annihilate Israel. In the past months and weeks they have been firing rockets into Israel. In the past 2 weeks, these rockets have caused injuries to civilians and one has even landed a far stretch from the Gaza Strip – northern of Israel’s biggest city in the south, Ba’er Sheva, more than 18 miles.  In at attempt to prevent Israel’s reactions and airstrikes to these rockets, Hamas himself has announced hunting down and arresting those who fire towards Israel (though, when it’s convenient for them, they fire themselves. For instance, Saturday morning of March 19th, 2011, when they took responsibility for firing over 50 rockets).

But the fact that this terror attack originated in the Gaza Strip but not committed by Hamas himself does not absolve it from responsibility. They have seized control over the Strip by force and have been acting as the ruling government. Just last week, they presented a brand new police force to enforce the order in the strip. It is their job and their responsibility to ensure not only the welfare of those they control undemocratically (and quite viciously, given that their reign is based on fundamentalism) but also to ensure the calmness of its’ borders. Obviously, this is not always Hamas’ goal and interest. But it is always their responsibility. Surely, if someone who is not an Israeli soldier, started firing towards the Gaza Strip, they would hold Israel responsible.

Israel will retaliate

Retaliation is only a matter of time. Whether or not Israel will choose to attack targets of Hamas as well will be answered shortly. I am quite confident that at this point the militants themselves have gone into hiding and has left their civilians to act a human shield. But whatever the outcome may be, this is not done in a vacuum. This is a horrible terror attack that must be repeled. Those responsible must pay and must understand that it will not be wise for them to send or act in these kind of heinous MURDERS agains. Depite what some people find so easy to believe, Israel has absolutely no interest in opening a military campaign against Hamas or the strip. It has no interest in causing civilian deaths. Commonsense of simply the images of that and the extra fuel to the de-legitimization process should be enough for any rational human being to comprehend this. The result of a campaign would be more rockets, sponsored by Hamas as well, and many Israelis forced to spend the end of summer vacation locked up in safe room at their homes and possibly the beginigng of the school year as well. Nevertheless, this must be answered. This is extremely important seeing as how most of the activity is done in the Sinai Peninsula where Israel has no power and is completely dependant on Egypt’s abilities (and unfortunetaly more often than most lack there of) to capture and stop these terrorists.

I will repeat the most important thing of all – Israel has absolutely no interest in opening a military campaign against Hamas or the strip.


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