Palestinians have been launching rockets from Gaza City that have killed and wounded Israelis in the town of Sderot and elsewhere. Israel has now launched an offensive in Gaza City in an effort to stop the rockets. Last night, IDF troops killed a Hamas leader:
Ground troops backed by helicopters, tanks and snipers surrounded the Zeitoun home of Ayman Hassanin, 26, a local leader in the military wing of the ruling Hamas group, witnesses said.
Gunmen streamed to the area as troops called on loudspeakers for Hassanin and his brother, Ibrahim, to surrender, said the militants’ mother, who identified herself only as Umm Mahmoud. A fierce gunbattle erupted, and Ayman Hassanin, 26, was killed, Hamas said.
Meanwhile, a top U.N. official visited Sderot, which has repeatedly been barraged by Palestinian rockets:
Louise Arbour, the U.N. commissioner for human rights, got an angry reception from a few Sderot residents on Tuesday. Workers at a chicken-slaughtering plant threw stones at her vehicle and shouted curses when she came to see the result of Palestinian rocket fire firsthand.
The man who was critically wounded by the rocket Tuesday was a plant worker. Last week, rocket fire killed a woman in Sderot.
Israel “has a responsibility to defend its citizens, but has to do so only by legal means,” said Arbour, who came as the guest of Sderot’s mayor, and visited a school and met with town residents. “It has to do so in line with international law, including international humanitarian law, but it has a primary responsibility to protect people who are under its authorities.”
So it goes at the U.N. Israel has, in theory, the right (and, of course, the duty) to protect its citizens against rocket attacks. But anything it does to try to achieve that goal is a violation of “international humanitarian law.”