Alternative Insight

Is Gaza a Testing Ground for Israeli Military?

If Israel attacks Iran, it may ignite retaliation by long range Shahab-3 missiles, which are reported to be able to reach Israel from the Islamic Republic. Preparation for an offensive against Iran dictates a simultaneous preparation of a missile defense - rigorous testing of Israel's Iron Dome system.

Not having sufficient land area for a model testing range, did the Star of David military make a controversial decision - allow the Palestinians in Gaza to fire their errant and mainly non-lethal missiles into southern Israel in order to facilitate Israel military testing of the Iron Dome system's capability? Other benefits - gauge the effectiveness of a response by the militants in Gaza to an attack on Iran, satisfy the world's objections to the continuous targeted assassinations of Gaza militants, and provide a reason to once again pound Hamas ruled Gaza into submission. Seems far fetched? What nation would place its citizens in jeopardy? Seems crazy. Well, nations are crazy. They send their children to meaningless wars without regard to the disruptions in their lives and with knowledge of their possible deaths.

During Operation "Cast Lead", from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians were killed, and dozens more were injured by rocket attacks. The reported number of Palestinian fatalities during "Cast Lead" ranges from 1,116 (IDF) to 1,455 (Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza). Add devastation of Gazan agriculture, industry, fisheries and infrastructure. Four years later, Hamas is still in control, Gaza has been rejuvenated and militant firepower is magnitudes more than in 2008. So what did Israel's violent attack on Gaza, which sacrificed some of its own people, accomplish and resolve? Resolution - nothing. Accomplishments - revised military strategy from failed excursion during Lebanon War, tested use of phosphorus and other bombs and missiles, and re-examined lengths to which a rebellious population can be subjected to mass killings and destruction before it succumbs. Why will Israel behave differently in the present crisis? If that is insufficiently convincing, events preceding the 2012 crisis fortify the thesis

To Israel, its drones, buzzing like a swarm of mosquitoes over all of Gaza serve a valid purpose - keeping track of illicit operations and attempts to infiltrate. Where has their effectiveness been tested, their logistics refined and their accuracy been fine tuned? It has been in Gaza - years of operations and years of targeted assassinations.

In 2012, about 800 rockets of various types had been fired from Gaza into southern Israel with no deaths from rocket fire (before the latest war), and about 30 civilians listed as wounded, mostly from shock. The real life testing could not prevent rockets from striking a building on November 15 and causing fatalities. Nevertheless, Iron Dome has shown improvement during the years of testing, and means for system improvements are evidently worth the chance of fatalities; they will prevent more future deaths than those that have occurred during the past years.

Call it tit-for-tat, but the Palestinians in Gaza claim their rockets are triggered by frustration that occurs from provocations. All they can do to retaliate to years of missiles directed against them from from land, sea, and air is to make life uncomfortable for their adversary. In an article titled Bodies for Ballots, Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the DC based Palestine Center proves the point. He reports that in Gaza, in the year 2102 until September,

Israeli weaponry caused 55 Palestinian deaths and 257 injuries. Among these 312 casualties, 61, or roughly 20 percent, were children and 28 were female. 209 of these casualties came as a result of Israeli Air Force missiles, 69 from live ammunition fire, and 18 from tank shells. It is important to note that these figures do not represent a totality of Israeli projectiles fired into Gaza but rather only Israeli projectiles fired into Gaza which cause casualties. The total number of Israeli projectiles fired into Gaza is bound to be significantly larger.

A life of external control, constant fear, intimidation and terror from Israel's military, living with access by land air and sea impeded by Israeli forces; these have been the lives of Gazans for decades past, and from Israel's attitude, a life they will have forever. Israeli authorities refuse to give one word of expression to the Gaza people and instead, bury their pleas and legitimate demands with a tirade of invectives and an avalanche of bullets. The sounds of projectiles substitute for words, proving to the Palestinians and the world that they are alive. Only the dead talk, and almost all of them are Palestinians. Living voices are met with a strange silence.

"For a year now, Israeli warships have been targeting our boats even before we reach the three mile limit… The patrol boats chase us every day, arrest fishermen and confiscate their nets. Many of my friends have lost their boats either through damage from bullets or confiscation. Many of them have been arrested or injured. Fishing in Gaza has become very dangerous. We go out in our boats without knowing whether or not we will come back."

Another overlooked point in the latest expansion of hostilities; they did not start from Palestinian militants' rocket fire. An already delicate situation unraveled when an anti-tank shell, fired from Gaza, hit a jeep on the Israeli side of the border fence. Few mainstream publications revealed the full fury of the Israeli reprisal on civilians noted.

After attack on jeep, Israel kills four in Gaza
Pioneer Press, Twin Cities, Minnesota, November 11, 2012

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Palestinian militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli jeep patrolling the border with Gaza, and the Israelis fired back into the Palestinian territory, killing four civilians, officials said Saturday, Nov. 10.

Israel's military said four of its soldiers were wounded in the missile attack, one seriously. Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health ministry spokesman, said that all four Palestinians killed were civilians between the ages of 16 and 18 and that among the 25 wounded were some children.

Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers retaliated with tank and machine gun fire toward residential areas at the al-Muntar hill, hitting people who were returning from a funeral east of Gaza City.

Rami Harra said his 17-year-old brother, Muhammad Harra, was killed in the strike. "He was at home when the explosion took place. He went out to see what happened and when he started to help evacuating wounded people who were on the ground, another shell hit the place and killed him," he said outside the morgue.

Why did the militants fire upon the Israeli jeep? Provocation! Two days previously, 13-year-old Hmeid Abu Daqqaa died after being hit by bullets fired from an Israeli tank or helicopter during border clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants near the southern Gaza Strip border. Earlier, Israeli forces arrested the son of Yehya Zayud, a Hamas leader in the West Bank Seelat al-Harthiya village in Jenin, an incident that enraged Hamas authority in Gaza. Another report from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign: "At approximately 15:00 on 20 June 2012, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at members of a Palestinian family who were in a picnic behind the campus of the Applied Sciences College in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza City. As a result, Ma’moun Mohammed Zuhdi al-Dam, 13, from al-Sha’af neighborhood, was killed when he was playing football. His blind father, Mohammed Zuhdi al-Dam, 67, was wounded by shrapnel to the head and the neck. Additionally, 3 children who were on a nearby field belonging to Talal al-Dahshan were also wounded."

These are only a few of tens of incidents that provoke Gazan militants into revenge.

Reprisal led to reprisal. Not until rockets found a target and killed three Israelis did the Israeli government announce an offensive to halt the rocket fire, which allows for a new phase of weapons and defense testing in the new war. The unguided rockets, which, as of November 21, have caused little damage after striking three and injuring two Israelis in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi, test Israel's air raid alarms, warning and shelter systems. Not that these are unusual and unnecessary exercises by themselves. However, they cannot be separated from a lack of attempt to conciliate and a willingness to escalate, all of which is suspicious, especially being that the Palestinian reprisals are not causing much damage, while Israeli attacks are causing severe damage and numerous fatalities.

As the ground attack forms, we learn that a new Israeli weapons system has been put to test and has operated effectively. Israeli military reports that a tank's "'Trophy' system sensed an incoming rocket and fired its own projectile, blowing it up away from the tank." This development, provoked by engagements during the Lebanon war, in which several Israeli tanks were demolished by anti-tank weapons, will assuredly invite additional real life testing, if an invasion of Gaza occurs. And if a cease fire fails to happen, expect new weapons - possibly robotic tanks and armored machines - new army formations, new communications and new testing of the endurance of a helpless people.

Not to be ignored is Israel's constant need to test the effectiveness of its public relations machine, which portrays its more helpless foes as deliberate terrorists and its mighty military as an intentional victim. Netanyahu can breathe easily - the United States media continues to follow the Israeli line. Conventional media, well identified with a pro-Israel bias, reported the present hostilities in exactly the same manner - opening the article with "rockets attacking Israel," and reporting in later paragraphs, "Israel is bombarding Gaza." Because there are no Israeli fatalities, daily casualties are not reported; only totals that include the three Israelis killed and two wounded on the first day of the war. Some of the "reporting" could have been written by the same person in Tel Aviv.

By NBC News staff and wire reports
Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET: On the third day of escalating violence between Israel and Gaza, air raid sirens cried out in Israel’s two largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as residents moved into underground shelters, NBC reporters on the scene said.

At least one rocket fired from Gaza toward Jerusalem landed outside the city, which is more than 60 miles from the Gaza Strip, according to NBC's Martin Fletcher. There were no injuries or damage. This was the first Palestinian rocket to reach the vicinity of Jerusalem since 1970.

Earlier, at least one rocket fired toward coastal Tel Aviv fell into the sea.

At least 19 Palestinians, including seven militants and 12 civilians, among them six children and a pregnant woman, have been killed in Israeli air strikes. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday.

Rockets strike near Israeli population centers, From Sara Sidner, Saad Abedine and Mariano Castillo, CNN
November 16, 2012
Gaza City (CNN) -- Rockets landed near Israel's two most populous cities Friday as fighting between Israel and Hamas militants persisted with no immediate end in sight.

The two rockets hit in an open area south of the city of Jerusalem and no damage was reported. Hamas militants confirmed that they had fired rockets toward the city, which Israel considers its capital but is not recognized as such by the international community.

Air raid sirens also sounded in Tel Aviv, but officials said rockets fired toward that city did not hit land, but might have landed in the sea.

Are Israeli ground forces moving into Gaza? The fighting has left 27 dead and 270 wounded since Wednesday, including a high-level Hamas military commander who was killed Friday, according to Gaza medical officials. Three Israelis have been killed in the same time span. The injured include 101 children and 96 women, said Dr. Mufeed Mkhallalati, the Palestinian health minister.

National Public Radio (NPR) reported that "Israel and Hamas trade rockets and missiles and the bloodletting continues." No mention that Hamas rockets have not caused extensive damage, and Israeli missiles are responsible for almost all the "bloodletting," and that the flow of blood is overwhelming from Palestinians .

Famous commentator Judy Woodruff signed off from the PBS News Hour with a few words of late news: "Rockets hit Israel and the Israelis call up reservists."

A humorous account describes rockets striking near Jerusalem, "evidently targeting Israel's Knesset." Rockets that have a radial accuracy of about 10kms are presented as aiming for a few hundred yards of government buildings. We also learn from CNN that Israeli children are getting bored from having to stay at home for a long period of time. Psychological damage to Israeli children is important and should be mentioned, but are bored Israeli children more serious news than dying Palestinian children?

There are lessons to be learned from these slanted news reports by popular US media, some of which are considered cherished institutions:

(1) These media are influenced by a foreign nation. How else to explain their totally biased reports?
(2) The obvious bias should signify to readers that these media are not to be trusted and not to be heard. Nevertheless, they have a huge following, which indicates the American populace lacks thought.
(3) Media have a public responsibility. Protests against their irresponsibility are necessary.
(4) These media are unaware of the difference between the effect of a rocket from Gaza and a missile from Israel. Some heavier rockets from Gaza pack power, but these photos represent the more dominant effects from artillery launched by each of the combatants.











Israeli Missile hits a Gaza building.                                                                                                       Gaza rocket hits an Israeli building.

Wars are not fought because the overwhelming more powerful military is tripped into an unwelcomed battle. If there is war, it occurs for a reason, has advanced planning and searches for meaningful results. The Palestinians in Gaza will remain as defiant and belligerent after the battles end. Therefore, there must be other accomplishments sought by Israeli attacks. If the Gazan militants are powerless to defend Gaza against offensive actions by Israeli forces and cannot inflict much harm to Israel, then the Gaza strip, de facto, is serving as a testing ground for Israeli military weapons and strategies - war crimes that have persisted for decades, and which the world permits.

november 21, 2012


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