debkafile: Fifteen Hamas missiles fired Saturday – hours after UN Secretary calls on Israelis and Palestinians to stop Gaza violence
Eight landed in Sderot, causing damage but no casualties.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed Friday night, Jan. 18, to Palestinians for “an immediate cessation” of sniper and rocket attacks and for “maximum restraint” by the Israeli military.
The UN secretary’s appeal came four days after Hamas and its allies fired 165 Qassam, 76 mortar rounds and one Katyusha rocket at Israeli civilian locations, causing injuries and damage. Israeli operations to quell the attacks left 30 Palestinians dead, but failed to halt them. Ban Ki-moon finally stepped in when Israel closed the border crossings into the Gaza Strip and cut fuel supplies for the duration of the Palestinian bombardment.
“We all understand the security problems and the need to respond… but collective punishment of the people of Gaza is not, we believe, the appropriate way to do that,” said John Holmes, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.
Friday night, the Israeli air force bombed empty Hamas ministry and military buildings in Gaza. A woman was killed at a wedding taking place near the ministry building and 50 people injured.
Prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak dodged heavy pressure for effective military action to stop the nightmarish attacks when they toured the dwindling population Thursday.
Taking a leaf out of the Lebanese Hizballah’s book in last year’s war and chalking up its four-day gains, Hamas can well afford to accept a ceasefire forced on both sides by the international community, thereby holding off further Israeli counter-attacks and forcing the reopening of the crossings. Meanwhile, Hamas and its partners can quietly restore their missile, mortar and fuel stocks ready for the next round of aggression, after achieving their goals of retaining the initiative for war operations at all times and further undermining Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas’ credibility for agreeing to join the “Zionist entity” in US-brokered peace talks.
debkafile‘s military sources report: Two Gaza organizations have acquired mobile missile units mounted on mini-vans Taliban style: Hamas and the al Qaeda-linked Fatah al Islam, which has recently deployed in the Strip. The well-camouflaged vans drive around until their crews are certain they have thrown off IDF drones and other surveillance. They then pull up and shoot. This tactic makes it almost impossible for the Israel Air Force to put a stop to the massive Palestinian missile offensive against Israeli civilians.