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Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman
Steep increase in rocket fire despite 'truce'
Security establishment releases data on accumulating artillery fired towards Israel, showing sharp increase of over 1,000 rockets, mortars fired in 2008 in comparison with previous year; IDF official says army preparing for Gaza op

The ceasefire agreement with the armed Palestinian groups in Gaza, set to expire before the end of the week, has not lived up to its name, statistical findings have concluded. According to the security establishment's data, 2008 saw an increase of over a thousand rockets and mortars from the previous year.

 

In 2007 over 1,200 rockets and 600 mortar shells were fired towards the western Negev. As 2008 comes to a close, 2,900 rockets have so far been fired at Israel.

 

Despite a relative lull during July and August, during which an average of five rockets and six mortar shells were launched each month, November saw a steep escalation in violence, with 148 rockets and an additional 85 mortar shells documented.

 

In 2004, before the Gaza pullout, less than a thousand rockets and mortar shells were launched at Israel from the Strip.

 

A senior military official responded to the figures and told Ynet that "there is no doubt that what is taking place in the Gaza Strip is intolerable. There are ways to take care of this, and we are awaiting the green light from upstairs."

 

He added, "The data from November proves that there is no lull, and even if there has been a decrease in launches over the past few days we cannot accept the terror organizations firing without cease whenever they want to."

 

The official remarked that the numbers bespoke a grim reality of life in the south since the Gaza pullout and the evacuation of Gush Katif. "There is no political expression here, but merely a simple analysis of numbers," he said.

 

"Either there is total peace – or a wide scale military operation," the official added. The Southern Command has been preparing for a number of scenarios in Gaza, ranging from small-scale operations to
large ones including reserve forces.

 

"There is no significance to December 19," said an officer familiar with the preparations. "The time of the lull's termination looks like it has already come in November."

 

The IDF has also begun to prepare for the coming weekend, in which Hamas is expected to attempt an attack in order to achieve the upper hand in the coming negotiations over another ceasefire agreement.

 

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