In response to months of escalating rocket attacks on Israeli civilians from terrorists in Hamas-run Gaza, Israel has begun a self-defense operation. It started with taking out the head of the self-proclaimed “military” or terrorist branch of Hamas who was unaffectionately known as Hamas Bin Laden. The Israel Project has posted useful background information here. We wish the IDF Godspeed in its critical mission.
The IDF has a Twitter feed providing real-time information and updates. Below is the YouTube video of the pinpoint strike on Jabari, posted by the IDF on its Twitter feed.
JOHN adds: As usual, press coverage begins when Israel tries to defend itself. Today’s fighting is the result of months of rocket bombardment of southern Israel by Hamas:
More than 80 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel over the weekend as Hamas unleashed a barrage that wounded several Israelis and damaged buildings in Sderot and the Sha’ar Hanegev area. The motive for the escalation from the normal volume of fire over the border (more than 600 missiles have been fired at Israel from Gaza in 2012 up until Saturday) from the Hamas-run enclave is a matter of speculation.
Israel’s Iron Dome system has been quite effective in defending certain cities and installations, but cannot protect all of southern Israel:
The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted two Grad rockets aimed at the strategic port city of Ashkelon Monday, but rural areas closer to Gaza sustained a dozen attacks. A missile attack on Ashkelon could be devastating if it were to strike oil and gas storage tanks and pipelines or a huge power station, which supplies electricity to most of southern Israel.
The expensive Iron Dome system is located to protect major urban areas, and there are not enough missile batteries to cover all of the Western Negev.
One rocket exploded on a home in Netivot, and 26 people were treated for the shock they endured during the barrage.
Gaza terrorist groups were competing with each for “credit” for the latest missile barrage, significantly smaller than the bombardment on Saturday and Sunday but still unacceptable for southern Israel residents who have felt abandoned by the government and the IDF during 12 years of missile strikes.
So Israel had no recourse but to try to degrade Hamas’s rocket capability in Gaza. News coverage generally leads with the Israeli attack, only back-handedly acknowledging that it follows months of rocket attacks by Hamas. The New York Times, for example:
Israel on Wednesday launched one of the most ferocious assaults on Gaza since its invasion four years ago, hitting at least 20 targets in aerial attacks that killed the top military commander of Hamas, drew strong condemnation from Egypt and escalated the risks of a new war in the Middle East.
The Times never suggested that Hamas’s rocket attacks “escalated the risks of a new war.” Eventually the paper works in a passing reference to Hamas’s attacks:
The ferocity of the airstrikes, which Israel called Operation “Pillar of Defense” in response to repeated rocket attacks by Gaza-based Palestinian militants, provoked rage in Gaza, where Hamas said the airstrikes amounted to war and promised a harsh response. Civil-defense authorities in Israel raised alert levels and told residents to take precautions for rocket retaliation from Gaza.
The Times seems to consider Hamas an ambiguous organization:
The abrupt escalation in hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the militant organization regarded by Israel as a terrorist group sworn to Israel’s destruction, came amid rising tensions between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors.
Of course Hamas is a terrorist group sworn to Israel’s destruction; it proclaims that commitment at every opportunity, and if its rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are not terrorist acts, what are they?
CNN likewise portrays Israel as the aggressor:
Israel launched a series of blistering air strikes Wednesday on what it says are terrorist targets in Gaza, killing the chief of Hamas’ military wing and at least eight others, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
Palestinian leaders immediately condemned the attacks as an escalation, with President Mahmoud Abbas calling for an emergency session of the Council of the League of Arab States to discuss what he called Israeli “aggression,” the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.
CNN eventually gets around to mentioning the months of rocket attacks launched from Gaza, but that part of the story comes off as a sort of draw:
The Israeli operation — which the military calls “Operation Pillar of Defense” — came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned this week of pending retaliation by Israel for increased rocket attacks from Gaza.
“I would ask you, I’d ask any person around the planet: What would you do if your population was targeted day after day?” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN, later adding that “you have to see our operation as fundamentally defensive.”
A spokesman for Hamas, Osama Hamdan, also claimed that Hamas has been defending itself from Israeli attacks.
“I think the ones who declared war was Israel, and I think the Palestinians are in the position of defending themselves and nothing more than this,” he said.
It’s all just too hard to figure out!
Meanwhile, in addition to the IDF twitter feed that Scott linked to above, you can get breaking news from the Jerusalem Post’s feed.
UPDATE: YouTube has removed the 10-second IDF video of the strike on Jabari for alleged violation of its terms of service.