No Palestinians or Israelis needed to die
in order to
protect Israeli civilians from rocket fire out of
Operation Cast Lead,
“Last Saturday [27 December] at 11:30,
Tzipi Livni told a big lie, when she
said “there was no other alternative”.
There was an alternative, one that had operated effectively from 19 June
to 4 November, without the spilling of any Palestinian or Israeli blood. The alternative was the continuation of the
Much has been written in the past
year about Israeli actions under Operation Cast Lead being
“disproportionate”. They were much worse
than that. They were totally
unnecessary. No Palestinians or Israelis
needed to die in order to protect Israeli civilians from rocket and mortar fire
Under the ceasefire agreement, which was brokered by Egypt, in exchange for Hamas and other Palestinian groups stopping the firing of rockets and mortars out of Gaza, Israel undertook to lift its economic blockade of Gaza (which it never did) and cease military incursions into Gaza (which it did until 4 November). The ceasefire came into effect on 19 June and was supposed to last for six months.
June until 4 November, only 19 rockets and 18 mortar shells were fired from
19 June, on average 7.1 rockets were fired per day, compared with 0.14 per day
between 19 June and 4 November. The
corresponding figures for mortars were 6.3 and 0.13. Also, the effectiveness of the ceasefire
improved as time went by and, in the whole of October, only 1 rocket and 1
mortar were fired out of
more, none of these rockets or mortars was fired by Hamas. Israeli Government spokesman, Mark Regev,
confirmed this on More4 News on 9 January 2009.
You can watch him saying it on YouTube . As a “partner for peace”, Hamas could not be
faulted – it made a deal with
facts about the ceasefire are indisputable.
They are publicly available in the reports of the Israeli Intelligence and
Thus, the figures for rocket and mortar firing in 2008, given above are taken from the ITIC report, Summary of rocket fire and mortar shelling in 2008  (p7).
Another ITIC report, The Six Months of the Lull Arrangement , describes the impact of the ceasefire. It depicts the period between 19 June and 4 November as a “period of relative quiet”, saying:
“As of June
19, there was a marked reduction in the extent of attacks on the western
ceasefire wasn’t perfect. Nevertheless, the threat to Israeli civilians
from firing out of
Rocket-free sky in Sderot
Life for the people of Sderot improved dramatically compared with earlier in the year. This is borne out by the following account taken from an article in the Toronto Star on 8 October 2008, entitled “Israeli town celebrates end to daily rocket: Besieged residents of Sderot relieved at quiet start to Yom Kippur, thanks to the ceasefire with Hamas” . It begins:
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.
An Israeli Government with the security of its civilians as its top priority would have been extremely careful to avoid action that might disturb this ceasefire, which had been so successful in diminishing the threat to them. It might even have taken action to bolster the ceasefire by, for example, easing its economic blockade as it was supposed to do under the ceasefire agreement.
the Israeli Government chose to break the ceasefire agreement, knowing that it
was almost certain that Hamas would resume firing in retaliation. Had the Israeli Government continued to
refrain from military incursions into
Of the breakdown of the ceasefire, the ITIC report says:
“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
if Israeli forces hadn’t entered
ITIC report, Escalation in the Gaza Strip
justifies the Israeli incursion into
difficult to avoid the conclusion that
Israeli Ambassador distorts
Senator David Norris described the
effectiveness of the ceasefire and
“With regard to Senator David Norris’ letter (November 23rd) seeking to blame Israel for the breakdown of the Hamas ‘lull’ in late 2008, the following facts prove that the firing at Israeli civilians never stopped: During the first part of the ‘lull’, from June 19th to November 4th, a total of 74 rockets and mortars landed in Israel from Gaza.”
The Ambassador’s figures are
actually wrong: only 30 rockets and mortars “landed in
(a) none of these rockets were fired by Hamas, which also sought to restrain other groups, and
(b) the frequency of firing was a fiftieth of what it was in 2008 prior to the ceasefire coming into operation – and that the frequency was declining as time went on, only 1 rocket and 1 mortar being fired in October.
The Ambassador is also less than comprehensive in his description of the breakdown of the ceasefire, saying:
“Three attempts to blow
up the border fence were made by Hamas but were prevented by the IDF. The most serious incident occurred
on November 4th, when the IDF acted on intelligence that a tunnel was being dug
from 250 metres inside the
There he omits to mention that
(a) the IDF incursion into
(b) if the IDF’s incursion had not
happened, the number of rockets and mortars fired from
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs distorts
The answer to the question: “What was the result of
The successful diplomatic overture
It is true that over 3,000 rockets
and mortars were fired from
However, 2008 had another
distinguishing feature: about 99% of the rocket and mortar firing took place in
the seven and a half months before and after the period from 19 June to 4
November. A mere 1% or so of the firing
took place in that four and a half month period – thanks to
Return of near daily rockets
Hamas and other Palestinian groups
continued firing rockets and mortars out of
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. …
meantime, the violent volleys continue. Several times a week,
So, the near rocket-free conditions,
which Sderot enjoyed prior to
Cast Lead failure
The extent of the rocket and mortar
“Nearly 270 rockets and mortar shells were fired at
The name of the game here seems to
be to give the impression that Operation Cast Lead was effective in reducing
rocket and mortar firing from
But, the success of Operation Cast
Lead should be judged against the alternative method of reducing the rocket and
mortar firing from
15 December 2009