Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hamas' rockets test limits of Israeli patience

By Donald Sensing

The news today is that Israel fired missiles into Gaza to kill Mubarak al-Hassanat, a top-ranking Hamas member directly involved with firing Hamas' homemade Kassan rockets into southern Israel.

Hamas has been firing the anti-personnel rockets into Israeli towns and countryside with regularity for years.

I went to Israel on Oct. 15 and returned just tonight. Two days ago I visited the town of Sederot (sometimes spelled Sderot) and nearby Ashkelon. Sederot is a little more than a kilometer from Gaza:

That's me standing on the southern edge of Sederot. Gaza is only a few hundred meters on the other side of the tree line behind me.

Six rockets fell on Sederot a few hours before we arrived. Here are the remains of three of them.

There is a large rack of exploded rockets outside the town's police station. They have a diagram explaining how the rockets are made.

These are purely anti-personnel rockets. They lack the explosive power to penetrate unreinforced buildings. The warhead section is loaded with pellets or small ball bearings intended to do nothing but shred flesh, propelled by only a couple of pounds of high explosive.

However, if they do hit an ordinary building (as a rocket did yesterday) they can damage it substantially:

Israel has tethered three blimps around the northern perimiter of Gaza with automated warning sensors and systems.

The town official who showed us around said it is optically based. Whern a launch is detected, every speaker in the town - and there are a lot of warning speakers - announces "red dawn" over and over. Townspeople have only 20 seconds to seek shelter. The town continues to build shelters such as this one.

Here is a video of the extent of the rack of recovered detonated rockets. This rack shows only six months worth of rockets launched. Yes, some people of Siderot have been killed, including children, as well as some Israelis in the surrounding areas.


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