Crowded Sderot shopping center takes direct Qassam hit from Gaza, 12 injured

The 15th missile of Wednesday, Dec. 17, from Gaza, which injured 12 people – three from shrapnel, the rest in shock – exploded in the Sderot supermarket parking area, destroying shops and cars and scattering crowds of panicky Hanukah shoppers.
The attack capped two days of a massive Palestinian missile and mortar barrage against several Israeli towns and villages without an Israeli military response. Only after the Sderot shopping center was ravaged did the Air force go into action against the Palestinians launching missiles from Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. Even then, the Palestinians kept on firing raising the day’s number to 21.
This week, despite the escalating barrage from Gaza, the chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi held the IDF down to one counter-attack per day. Senior officers in the Southern Command said this order had made the Israeli army and its ability to protect the Israelis living around the Gaza Strip look ridiculous. The fact that the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami missile teams have switched from mobile to stationary launchers showed they were aware that defense minister Ehud Barak had tied the Israeli military’s hands and they could carry on firing safe from interference.
The defense minister had counted on Egypt to hold the Hamas in check when he accepted a six-month unwritten “truce” through its good offices in June. This strategy collapsed along with the “truce” which expires Friday.
Since then, Barak and Ashkenazi have drummed up all sorts of pretexts to duck the long-delayed effective military ground action in Gaza.They say that before embarking on a major military operation it is essential to know how it will end; to be effective, the Gaza Strip must be reoccupied; or such action would put at risk the life of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit held in Gaza for two-and-a-half years.
More recently, the defense minister challenged the state attorney, Menahem Mazuz, to provide legal sanction for the army to go into Gaza. Mazuz tossed the buck back by withholding an opinion. He has not forgotten that Barak ignored the last opinion he was asked for, permission to demolish the home of the Jerusalem tractor-terrorist. That building is still standing. It is as glaringly obvious to the state attorney as to everyone else on both sides of the conflict that the defense minister only consulted him as an excuse to avoid action.
Former generals, including the ex-chief of Military Intelligence, Aaron Farkas, have stated publicly that every day the Palestinian terrorists get away without punishment further erodes the Israeli military’s deterrent power in the Middle East at large. They strongly urge an end to procrastination and the immediate launch of a series of pinpoint strikes against the Palestinian terror organizations shooting the missiles from Gaza: Hamas, Jihad Islami, Fatah and the Popular Resistance Committees. Without a serious military campaign, the security threat emanating from the Gaza Strip will go from bad to worse.
The reoccupation of the Gaza Strip is not a serious option for any military authority and therefore should not be used as a pretext to shirk the necessary counter-action to the Palestinian missile blitz.

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