Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fired thousands of rockets into southern Israel targeting civilian areas.

The rockets are designed exclusively to maximize civilian deaths, and some have barely missed schoolyards, kindergartens, hospitals, and school buses. But others hit their targets, killing more than a dozen civilians since 2001, including in February 2008 a father of four who had been studying at the local university. These anti-civilian rockets have also injured and traumatized countless children.

These rockets are not only aimed at civilians, they are fired from civilian centers, densely populated civilian areas. Palestinians have reported that when they cry out to Hamas not to fire from near their homes Hamas terrorists have threatened them. It is a cynical and unscrupulous tactic in the war between terrorists who live to die for the cause of hate and war and Israel that is dying to live in peace. The terrorists have learned how to exploit the sensibilities of the world by putting civilians in harms way, using them as shields and then accusing Israel of targeting civilians, a tactic that they they themselves use, not Israel.

Hamas brings women and children up to the roofs of buildings housing terrorist activity in an attempt to prevent air strikes; it sends civilians to the line of fire; it works out of schools and mosques; it fires rockets out of crowded population centers; and it sends Palestinian mothers to murder Israeli children in suicide attacks.

In addition, many of Hamas’ arms smuggling tunnels are hidden beneath the homes of Palestinian civilians.

The attacks on Israeli citizens have little to do with what Israel does or does not do. They have everything to do with an ideology that despises ā€“ and openly seeks to destroy ā€“ the Jewish state. After Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, rocket attacks increased substantially and they accelerated further after Hamas seized control last year.

Just before the hostilities began, Israel reopened a checkpoint to allow humanitarian aid to reenter Gaza. It had closed the point of entry after it had been targeted by Gazan rockets. Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, also issued a stern, final warning to Hamas that unless it stopped the rockets, there would be a full-scale military response. The Hamas rockets continued and Israel kept its word, implementing a carefully prepared targeted air attack against Hamas targets.

Militants hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon a little over a week ago with a medium-range rocket, causing no casualties. Rocket fire has fallen off as Israeli troops tighten their hold on Gaza, taking over open areas used to launch rockets, but Gaza residents say militants are still launching from heavily populated areas.

New York Times
Al Jazeera
Xtrian Science monitor
Israel Opinion
Washington Post