As I write Israel is bombing Hamas targets in the Gaza strip, leaving 360 Palestinians dead, most of whom are women and children judging by the sympathetic (and stage managed) European press.
A Palestinian boy watches the funeral of three
children in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
December 29, 2008. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
The Western Press has paid little attention to the rocket and mortar attacks on Israelis occurring on a daily basis for the past 8 years. Here is a photograph of a mother of 4 who was killed by a Hamas rocket in Ashdod.
Murdered: Irit Sheetrit, mother of 4 (Avi Rokach, Ynet News)
While the newspapers and airwaves are filled with pictures of Palestinian killed or wounded by Israel thanks to careful manipulation by Hamas, the European and American press ignore the Israeli victims that are behind the Israeli attacks. This fits “the narrative” that Israel is an apartheid, terrorist state while the Arabs are the oppressed, allowing the terrorists to use the consciences of Jews, Europeans and Americans as cover for their killing spree.
Since 2000 Islamic terror groups have launched 10,046 rockets and mortars at Israel, most falling within a 20 km band from Gaza. Of these, terror groups launched 7,000 after Israel quit the Gaza Strip in 2005. The attacks killed or wounded nearly 300 Israelis (est), a ratio of roughly 35 missiles for each Israeli casualty.
Kassam 2 Rockets, Enough to Kill an Israeli Mother of Four
Kassams compromise the majority of rockets used in the attacks against Israel. The Kassam I was first used in 2001 against Israelis settlements in Gaza. The Kassam I weighs 12 lbs is 60mm in diameter, 31 inches long and carries a pound of explosive. The Kassam I has a 3km range. The Kassam 2 (shown above) weighs 70 lbs, is 150mm in diameter, 72 inches long and carries 11-15 lbs of high explosive. It has a range of 8 kms. The Kassam 3 and 4 are even larger, with the latter having a range of 20 kms. Israeli intelligence suspects that longer range rockets are on the drawing board, especially if sanctions are lifted on the Hamas regime. While these relatively small rockets can be manufactured in Gaza or be smuggled in from Egypt through tunnels, the larger and more sophisticated rockets would have to come from Iran, Syria or Russia by land and sea. These rockets have ranges of 40 km, effectively doubling the area currently under siege.
Recently as I was viewing satellite imagery of Israel, I was struck by how small the country is. At 20,770 km square if Israel were an American state it would be the sixth smallest – bigger than New Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island. Gaza itself is roughly the size of Detroit at 360 km square. At its narrowest point between the Mediterranean Sea and Judea and Sumaria (aka the West Bank) Israel is only 15 km – 9 miles – wide.
I don’t think Americans appreciate how physically small Israel is. When we hear that Hamas is firing missiles with ranges of 20 km (12 miles) into Israel, it’s difficult to relate it to anything we know. After all 12 miles from the border of Mexico is less than 1% of the distance between the Mexican border in the south and the Canadian border in the north. With the exception of border cities like El Paso and San Diego, Kassams launched by Mexico would fall into scrubland and desert.
America is a large country and our geography determines much of how we think and relate to the world. Americans perceive of space differently – speaking as one taking 2 years to navigate the narrow aisles of a Japanese grocery store without knocking food off the shelves. Our country is big, our homes are big, our roads are long and wide. Two oceans protect our eastern and western shores, and we have neutralized our only military threat in the entire hemisphere – Cuba an island 90 miles away.
But things are different in Israel. Israel is a small, fragmented country surrounded by enemies. When people urge Israel to trade land for peace they fail to consider that Israel doesn’t have very much land to trade. Worse, while Israel gives its precious land away – as it has in Gaza and in south Lebanon – it receives nothing in return. Instead of peace its enemies quickly use the land as a staging area for more attacks in a quest to get even more land from Israel. In essence “Land for Peace” becomes ”Land for More Land”, a method of conquest of Israel by its enemies.
Here is a map showing the actual ranges of rockets fired from Gaza superimposed on a map of Israel. Note that prior to 2005 settler outposts in Gaza had buffered Israel from many of the rocket attacks. Once Israel withdrew, Hamas and the other terror groups were free to hit Israel-proper with missiles and mortars. The area shaded red is expected future capabilities and will be ignored for now. Everything blue, yellow and green has been under bombardment for the past 8 years.
The 20 km distance ranges between 2/3 and 1/7 the width of Israel. For argument’s sake I will use an average of 1/4. For perspective imagine that a quarter of the width of the USA from Mexico – 500 km (300 miles) – was under bombardment from our southern neighbor. What would a similar map look like?
Comparative Range of Rocket/Mortar Bombardment at 500 km (300 miles)
Virtually the entire southwest including all of Southern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque and most of Texas and approximately 40 million Americans would be exposed to daily attack. It’s difficult to imagine any American administration no matter how Leftist that could tolerate the attacks that Israel has been putting up with for the past 8 years. Interestingly this region corresponds to Aztlan, an area which Chicano supremacist groups like MEChA and “La Raza” hope to one day liberate.
We can go further. Israel’s population of 7.2 million is roughly 1/40 that of the United States. Multiplying the number of rocket and mortar casualties by 40 and the American equivalent is 12,000 dead and wounded. How much “restraint” could an American government be expected to exercise in such a scenario?
The old adage that one should wait to judge a man until after walking a mile in his shoes can help us appreciate the conditions of “peace” that Israel has lived under for most of the decade. We can only hope that the Israelis have the wisdom and fortitude necessary to do what it takes to protect itself. Given the performance of its current government, it has shown that until now it lacks both.