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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Preparing for rockets in Be'er Sheva?

This morning's JPost has a headline that says that Israel is preparing for rockets to hit Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva. We've discussed Ashkelon before, but Be'er Sheva is much further away from Gaza. But there's a good reason that the government needs to 'prepare' for rockets to fall in Be'er Sheva: they don't plan to act before then. This is from a JPost interview with 'Deputy' Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, who unlike his boss at least knows how the army works:
Sneh also said that Israel will need to consider escalating military operations in the Gaza Strip if rockets begin to fall in Netivot, Ashkelon or Kiryat Gat, amid concern that Israel's targeting of Hamas leaders could trigger attacks on cites within a 25 km. radius of Gaza.

Government officials said the concern was that the Palestinians could have the capability to reach southern Ashdod and the western reaches of Beersheba.

"We are getting ready for the possibly that the range will increase," Sneh told The Jerusalem Post. "They can increase the range and we need to be ready."
Need to consider? What the &^%$ are we waiting for? We already know that the 'Palestinians' have rockets capable of reaching 25 km. out:
High-ranking defense officials told the Post terrorists had smuggled long-range rockets into Gaza from the Sinai through tunnels underneath the Philadelphi Corridor. Islamic Jihad is known to have a limited number of outdated Grad-model Katyusha rockets, but has yet to fire them at their maximum range of 25 km.
Of course, YOU didn't need 'high ranking defense officials' to tell you that the 'Palestinians' have Grad rockets. I reported last August that the 'Palestinians' had fired a Grad rocket.

But what does a 25-kilometer range mean? In the paper edition, this morning's Post has a map that shows a 30-kilometer range from the Gaza Strip (which for some reason does not include Be'er Sheva). In order to keep the size of the graphic down, I had to do it in black and white and suffer a rather crude resolution, but I think this will give you the picture:

The numbers I have seen indicate that increasing the range of the 'Palestinians' rockets to 25 kilometers would put another 250,000 Israelis within range. But they don't even need the Grad rockets to make life miserable for Israelis:
Another concern is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have succeeded in extending the range of their Kassam rockets. The officials said there were rockets known to reach 15 km., and that it was possible that some could travel farther.

"They are always working to improve rockets and to extend their range," a top defense official said. "If they're not disturbed, with enough time they will eventually succeed."
From reading an interview yesterday with Abu Muhammed, a 'Gaza-based militant from Islamic Jihad,' it sounds like they have 'succeeded' already.
Abu Muhammad, a Gaza-based militant and spokesperson for Islamic Jihad, told WND his group and Hamas have been firing rockets in recent days that are more accurate, feature twin engines, and larger canisters that can carry larger payloads than in the past.

He said his group and other Palestinian terror organizations built rockets that can travel up to 14.3 miles (23 kilometers) into Israel from Gaza. He said the new projectiles afford Palestinian groups the ability to reach further into Israel and to launch the rockets from anywhere within the Strip.
As compared with?
Until now, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have mostly been firing Qassam rockets from the northern Gaza Strip; most rockets fired could travel up to 4 miles. The Qassams have been bombarding Sderot and Ashkelon, a port city that is home to important strategic industrial plants and one of Israel's largest electricity generators.

The new claim suggests a dozen more Israeli cities would be within range of the rockets, bringing to about 250,000 the total Israeli population that could live under rocket threat from Gaza.

Abu Muhammad claimed Israel would be "very surprised and astonished soon by our rocket capacities."
Well, maybe. But it doesn't matter whether Israel is 'surprised' if it's not willing to take advantage of what it knows already to preempt the 'Palestinians'. But that's a topic for another post.


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