to produce a casus belli
“Success is freeing the
civilian population of southern
Those were the words of Israeli
spokesman, Mark Regev, in an interview with David Fuller on More4 News on 9
January 2009, two weeks into
By 9 January, Israeli forces had
killed nearly a thousand Palestinians, ostensibly to achieve this success, but
rockets were still being fired out of
Under the agreement, brokered by
What is more, Hamas stuck rigidly to
the ceasefire agreement, and fired no rockets or mortars out of
Mark Regev confirmed the ceasefire’s “success” on More4 News on 9 January. When David Fuller put to him that “there were no Hamas rockets during the ceasefire before November the 4th, there were no Hamas rockets for 4 months”, Regev replied: “That’s correct”.
How did the success evaporate?
So, how did the success of “freeing
the civilian population of southern
There is no doubt that the Israeli
government knew (a) that the military incursion into Gaza on 4 November would
mean that the civilian population of southern Israel would no longer be free
from Hamas rockets, and (b) that, if it continued to refrain from military
incursions into Gaza, as it had done from 19 June, the civilian population of
southern Israel would be free from Hamas rockets indefinitely. In other words, it chose course (a) in the
full knowledge that civilians in southern
It is difficult to avoid the
David Fuller put it to Mark Regev
that “the civilians of southern
“The civilians of
That omits the very important fact that, for four and a half months from June to November 2008, the civilians of southern Israel were NOT living under the threat of incoming Hamas rockets, and that, if Israel had refrained from making a military incursion into Gaza on 4 November, they would have continued to be free from the threat of incoming Hamas rockets.
Tzipi Livni’s big lie
The Israeli town of
On 31 December 2008, a few days
“Last Saturday [27 December] at 11:30,
Tzipi Livni was telling a big lie, when she said “there was no other alternative”. There was an alternative, which worked well from 19 June to 4 November, as the following account of life in Sderot in October illustrates:-
Israeli town celebrates end to daily rocket
Besieged residents of Sderot relieved at quiet start to
Yom Kippur, thanks to the ceasefire with Hamas.
MIDDLE EAST BUREAU
SDEROT, Israel–Young boys horsed around on their bicycles, families hurried to make last-minute purchases at the downtown supermarket, and food stands did a steady business in shawarma and beer.
Meanwhile, the October sun sparkled down from a blue and rocket-free sky.
If this seems like an unremarkable description of any Israeli town about to mark the holy day of Yom Kippur, it almost could be – except for that part about rockets.
Just a kilometre from the Gaza Strip, this southern Israeli town has been struck by an average of three missiles a day for each of the past seven years – and that is a long way from what most people would consider normal.
Lately, however, the cloudless firmament over Sderot has been mostly free of deadly ordnance, and the community is doing its best to resemble what for a long time it has singularly failed to be – a halfway normal town.
For seven years, local residents barely went out at all. But, late last June, under Egyptian mediation, the Israeli government reached a ceasefire agreement with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
then, with only a few violations, the rocket salvoes from
So have the punitive Israeli military incursions into the neighbouring strip – attacks that had been a frequent and deadly feature of Palestinian existence prior to the laying down of arms in June.
Less than a month later, on 4
Key facts indisputable
The key facts about the ceasefire
are indisputable. They are confirmed in
reports by the Israeli Intelligence and
For example, a report entitled The Six Months of the Lull Arrangement , written on 17 December 2008, just before the 6-month ceasefire agreement was due to expire, summarises its effect as follows:
“The lull arrangement brought relative
quiet to the western
Gaza Strip, especially during its first months, but it did not completely end the rocket and mortar shell attacks.” (paragraph 3)
The report makes no attempt to hide
the fact that the ceasefire worked well up to 4 November 2008 and that it was
“An analysis of the situation on the ground indicates two distinct periods:
i) A period of relative quiet between June 19
and November 4: As of June 19, there was a marked reduction in the
extent of attacks on the western
ii) The escalation and erosion of the lull
arrangement, November 4 to the time of this writing, December 17: On
November 4 the IDF carried out a military action close to the border security fence on the Gazan side to
prevent an abduction planned by
Hamas, which had dug a tunnel under the fence to that purpose. Seven Hamas terrorist operatives were
killed during the action. In retaliation, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations attacked
So, the ITIC confirms that from 19 June to 4 November “Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire” and that the relatively small number of ceasefire violations were “carried out by rogue terrorist organizations, in some instance in defiance of Hamas (especially by Fatah and Al-Qaeda supporters)”.
The ITIC also confirms that Israeli
Another ITIC report, Escalation in the Gaza Strip 
justifies the Israeli incursion into
Decline of rocket and mortar firing
The rate of rocket and mortar firing declined dramatically from 19 June onwards, when the ceasefire came into force. The following bar chart from the ITIC report, Escalation in the Gaza Strip, illustrates the decline:
Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
during the Lull Period
According to the bar chart, 1,199 rockets were fired out of
(The equivalent decline for mortar shells is 1,072 to 17, that is, on average, 180 a month to around 4 a month. Again, the rate of firing also fell by 98%).
Note also that the number of violations of the ceasefire declined as time went on – only one rocket and three mortars were fired in September, and two rockets and no mortars in October
Clearly, up until 4 November, the ceasefire arrangements had been very successful in reducing the threat to Israeli civilians.
Return of near daily rockets
Hamas and other Palestinian groups continued firing rockets and mortars out of Gaza throughout Israel’s military assault on Gaza and afterwards. Here is a picture of life in Sderot in mid-March:-
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 14, 2009 edition 
The very hour Chana Melul returned to Sderot with her three young boys, whom she'd taken on vacation up north to escape the front lines, the rockets were back.
after they set down their suitcases, a Qassam rocket launched from nearby
But for Ms. Melul, a single mother, the disquiet never really goes away. …
two months after
meantime, the violent volleys continue. Several times a week,
Geographically, her closest neighbors
are in northern
Clearly, the near rocket-free
conditions, which Sderot enjoyed prior to
ITIC reports show that in the 2
months after 18 January, when
Tzipi Livni’s big lie
Clearly, from the point of view of
keeping Israeli citizens safe,
20 July 2009