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How Will Israel Respond to Gaza Rockets Launched This Week?

How Will Israel Respond to Gaza Rockets Launched This Week?
Israelis look at a house that was hit by a rocket fired from the Hamas-run Palestinian Gaza Strip, one of the first projectiles fired in recent weeks from Gaza, on the central Israeli city of Bersheva on October 17, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, 18 October 2018 02:30 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Palestinians in Gaza shot two GRAD rockets at Israel on Wednesday morning.

One rocket missed the highly populated coastal region of Israel and landed in the Mediterranean Sea. The other rocket hit a private home in Beersheba.

The home was totally demolished. The family, three young children and their parents, were alerted to the incoming rocket by an early warning siren. The mother rushed the still sound-asleep children into their "secure room" with a few seconds to spare. Physically, the family was unhurt. But they are in shock.

Israel has designed an early warning system specifically designed to allow people a few seconds, anywhere between fifteen and forty seconds, to enter their secure rooms or other secure areas. Secure rooms are requisite in every Israeli home. No new home passes inspection without it. Typically, these rooms are stocked with food, water and age appropriate entertainment, pillows and blankets.

Israel will now respond to the attacks. The question is how they will respond and with how much force. The IDF (Israel Defense Force) chief of staff called short his three day trip to Washington, D.C., and returned to his post in Israel. The prime minister’s cabinet has met twice since this attack to discuss Israel's response.

This is most certainly not the first time rockets have been shot from Gaza into Israel. It is not the first time the warning alarm has gone off and Israelis have rushed to safe rooms. But it is the first time in a very long time that there has been a direct hit on a home, and that's what makes this attack different from all others. That's why this attack warrants a serious response, a response that is different from all others.

Another game changer is that the rockets made their way deep into Israel.

Hamas is responsible for all that happens in Gaza.

They say that they have 100 percent loyalty among Gazans and that none of their people shot those rockets. They are laying the blame on Islamic Jihad saying that Islamic Jihad is the only other group capable of launching such a weapon and, since it was not a Hamas launched weapon, it has to be an Islamic Jihad launched weapon. Who is to be believed?

So far, no group is assuming responsibility.

Egypt was insulted by the Gaza rocket attack on Israel. Cairo was sending its highest level delegation to Gaza to work as mediators between Israel and Hamas when the rockets landed. The delegation promptly turned around and went home. Egyptian leadership felt as if they were sticking their diplomatic necks out, putting their reputation on the line, and the leadership of Gaza, instead of welcoming their input, spit on them.

GRAD rockets are very dangerous weapons. They fall into the general category of rockets and take their name from the Russian word for "hail" —they fall from the sky, hitting hard, as hail does. All GRADs are based on the Russian GRAD model originally built in 1963. Today these rockets usurped the Katushya as the "go to" weapon. They have no guidance system. They are shot from portable launchers and have multiple tubes.

You name the country and they have either bought or developed their own GRAD rockets. They are the most used rocket weapon today. They are the preferred weapon of terrorists.

As a rocket system the GRAD is not very accurate — it is a point and shoot weapon. This means that the GRAD seldom hits its target. It also means that the GRAD is a weapon of terror. The Palestinians who shot the GRAD into Israel could not know where it would land. Their objective was to terrify and frighten as many Israelis as possible.

The conventional GRAD is large — they are about 24 feet long and can carry a large explosive head. The GRAD used by the Palestinians was most probably a variant of the original 1963 Russian design. It was probably an upgrade and certainly more mobile and shorter.

This still leaves the question of how Israel will respond.

In an ideal world, Israel does not want to advance into Gaza with ground troops. That would be too costly and the risk too high. They will attack with drones, helicopters, and fighter jets. They will attack known targets and symbolic targets. Under the cloak of darkness, even before this latest attack, Israel’s elite strike force units enter Gaza. They will continue to do so. These small units are tasked with both simple search missions and the more dangerous search and destroy missions. Often, they are there confirming intelligence and making certain that civilian casualties will be kept to a bare minimum.

If, however, the prime minister’s cabinet feels that the only way to curb the launching of rockets into Israel is by launching a ground attack then so be it — that is what will happen. But I don't see that happening.

Israel uses a calculus when determining their responses to enemy activities and actions. In order to advance on the ground into Gaza with significant IDF power, several conditions would have to have been in place. First, a further escalation of violence. Second, the deaths of civilians. And Israel would require — for themselves and their collective national conscience, a clear understanding of who was responsible.

At this point the all requirements for a ground initiative have not been met. Instead, Israel will use airstrikes and several surgical strike forces and the situation will remain as status quo.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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Palestinians in Gaza shot two GRAD rockets at Israel on Wednesday morning.
israel, gaza, hamas, rockets
Thursday, 18 October 2018 02:30 PM
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