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Israel, Hamas, and Palestine:
The Gaza Strip Rocket Attacks



UPDATE: The Israeli - Hamas Conflict in the Gaza Strip Entered into a Ceasefire on 21 November 2012. This is a video of a campaign to raise awareness of the Gaza Strip conflict at the University of Oklahoma's Norman Campus on Monday, 19 November 2012. I participated in this event with fellow classmates and clubs:

[I make my appearance at 2:45] 
Here is an article from the OU Daily on the demonstration.

-------------------- Original Article ------------------

IDF Rocket Attack Info-Graphic
Starting in the early 2000's, the rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip are responsible for approximately 60 Israeli deaths and 1,650 Israelis injured. All rockets launched from the Gaza Strip are considered by Israel to be the work of Hamas. In reality the majority of the rocket attacks emanate from terrorist groups like the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades [Fatah], Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - while about a third of rocket attacks are perpetrated by unknown or unaffiliated actors. Albeit, the argument could be made that Hamas demonstrates tacit support in so far as it is not able to prevent third-party rocket attacks, but it is worth noting that Hamas does claim responsibility when launching their own attacks and has policed other groups attempts at rocket attacks. 

     Yes, Hamas is widely designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and it is the elected government for the Gaza Strip. However, this does not mean that Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip are explicitly supporting Hamas in terms of their military/resistance actions, nor are they endorsing such activities. Hamas also polices, provides public services, and operates schools & hospitals in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, public opinion polls of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have shown an increasing rate of disapproval of the rocket attacks and an decrease in the view that the rocket attacks help Palestinian goals. When local Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have tried to prevent rocket attacks, their families are terrorized and/or murdered. Even in the West Bank, western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has vocalized his condemnation of the rocket attacks. 

     The number of rocket attacks coming from the Gaza Strip, since 2001, has been put at 7,882, with an estimated 4,890 mortar attacks, for a total of 12,791 attacks. Israel has responded to the rocket attacks by launching 7 official operations in the past decade, Operation Rainbow (May 2004), Operation Days of Penitence (2004), the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict, Operation Autumn Clouds (2006), Operation Hot Winter (2008), Operation Cast Lead (2009), and Operation Pillar of Cloud (2012 - Currently Ongoing), while also intermittently dealing with individual rocket launches on an individual response strike basis.  The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) conduct thousands of sorties, bombing hundreds of targets, over the period of an operation targeting rocket attacks. And although official sortie operation numbers from the Israeli Air Force are hard to find, there are an average of 2,000 per operation. So over the last decade the number of sorties performed by the Israeli Air Force are, by estimate, nearly similar in quantity to the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Iron Dome countermeasure missile battery in Israel
     Israel has developed two response systems for the rocket attacks: the Red Color early warning system and the famous Iron Dome defensive countermeasure anti-missile battery system. Both are highly advanced radar based systems. The Red Color warning system provides a town's residents with a 15 second warning of an incoming rocket. The Iron Dome defensive counter measure tracks an incoming rocket and fires countermeasure rockets to neutralize the threat - with about a 90% success rate. So, in the reality of statistics, the majority of potentially damaging threats to Southern Israel presented by the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip are effectively eliminated. 

     The Qassam class rockets that account for 92% of the rockets fired from the West Bank have a payload range of 10-45 lb. (5-20 kg) in the form of an explosive warhead with bearings. The Israeli Air Force often responds with rapid response Helicopter Gunships or F-15 and F-16 airstrikes targeting the areas in the Gaza Strip where the rocket attacks were fired from. Here is where a core problem emerges. The effective size of the Gaza Strip is 141 square miles (365 square kilometers) - about the size of Denver, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Liechtenstein. The population of the Gaza Strip is 1.7 million - about the size of Indianapolis, West Virginia, or Qatar. The population density of the Gaza Strip is 12,056/mi2 (4,657/km2) - about the same as Chicago, the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, or Moscow. These factors are clear evidence as to why the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. So when the Israeli Fighter Jets drop a 150 lb. (70 kg) cruise missile or a 500 lb. (225 kg) precision guided air-to-ground missile (AGM) on their target, it should come as no surprise that collateral damage to the civilian population is almost assured. The estimate of rocket attack response casualties are approximately 1,000 Palestinian deaths and 6,650 Palestinians injured. The ratio for Palestinian to Israeli casualties are 4:1 for injuries and 16:1 for deaths. Again, this comparison demonstrates the disparity of Palestinian and Israeli aggression.
   
     The British Balfour declaration stated that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." This is a long gone consideration. The wealth and luxury of Israel bordering the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank is humanity's greatest irony; the best of what that the modern western world has to offer, next to deplorable and devastating conditions - conditions resulting from and preserved by that slice of the western world. This paradox is ingrained in Israel's founding principle - "A Jewish Democratic State." It can be Jewish, and Israel can be democratic within that Jewish demographic, but this is racist. This is fine, but it has to be recognized and not simply ignored - and as a result, is nothing more than an artificial democracy.

The Daily Star - Lebanon Editorial Cartoon
     Fervently reiterated is the point that "Israel has a right to exist." No nation-state has a 'right' to exist, they do, however, have a right to defend themselves. The whole concept of Zionism and Israel is for "the Jewish right of return to their historic homeland." Yet the Palestinians who were forced out of Israel and the thousands who have fled as refugees are categorically denied this right of return privilege and instead are downplayed as the "Palestinian refugee issue." That term is used by Israeli politicians, Netanyahu and the like, to casually describe the ethnic cleansing that is taking place. This is a double standard, justified by racist policies, to preserve a racist status quo.

     The claims of Zionism and thus, Israel are political in nature, but based off of religious mythology. Critiquing Zionism and Israel is not anti-Semitic, nor is it "New Anti-Semitism." Criticizing a political and national foundation is not being critical of Judaism or Semitism - and any conflation of such is the fault and consequence of using those as the foundation for the justification and legitimization of Zionism and Israel.

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     For more interesting information on this issue, read 'The Fallacy of Biological Judaism' by Robert Pollack. He focuses on the biological history of Jewish genealogy. Here are some selected excerpts:

"Unlike asking “Are Jews a family?”, as historians have traditionally done, geneticists seeking to advise Ashkenazic families are also, in passing, asking, “Do Jews all share the same versions of one or more genes?” - a question with a testable, precise answer. As no two people except pairs of identical twins have exactly the same version of the human genomic text, this claim could be confirmed or rejected by a search for versions of the human genome shared by all Jews and no other people."

"At a recent meeting of the Association of Orthodox Jewish scientists and the Columbia Center for the Study of Science and Religion, it became clear that Jewish curiosity has provided sufficient genetic material to give a perfectly clear negative answer: There is no support in the genomes of today’s Jews for the calumnious and calamitous model of biological Judaism. Though there are many deleterious versions of genes shared within the Ashkenazic community, there are no DNA sequences common to all Jews and absent from all non-Jews. There is nothing in the human genome that makes or diagnoses a person as a Jew."

"People - our species - are one family in precisely the same way that Jews are not. The story of Ashkenazic inherited diseases should make us all sensitive to the larger issues of inherited disease, and of genetic difference. But beyond the obligation this story tells us all to undertake - to accept the evidence and give up vain hopes of any religious birthright in our genes - is an even larger moral duty."


Here are links to the websites of the parties involved in the current conflict:


[This is neither a defense of Hamas, nor is it an endorsement of them or their tactics. The casualty figures listed do not include Palestinians that were claimed as a soldier by Hamas, or those accused by the Israeli Defense Force of being a militant or enemy combatant.]

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