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Published on November 17th, 2012

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Rockets Hit Israel’s Main Cities – Increasing Risk of Escalation

The last few days have seen more than 500 rockets fired into Israel from the bordering Gaza area.

These attacks starten on November 10, killing civilians and disrupting daily life in southern Israel. More than one million people live within range of these rocket attacks, and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) responded by engaging in operation Pillar of Defence.

Part of the response was the assasination of Ahmed Jabari, head of the military in Gaza, as well as attacking the Fajr rocket sites in Gaza. Hamas’ reply was to intensify the rocket attacks, using new advanced rockets reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The attacks on the Israeli town of Kiryat Malakhi left three civilians dead and six wounded. Also, six IDF soldiers were wounded in Eshkol. The Israeli Air Force retaliated by hitting hundreds of strategic targets in Gaza.

 

A possible escalation?

The situation could escalate for several reasons. From the Israeli point of view it is untolerable that its main cities, as well as southern Israel, is under constant threat. There is also a new dimension to these attacks, as the rockets now are of better quality and thus a longer range.

It is the first time since 1970 that rockets have reached Jerusalem. This has resulted in the draft of 75,000 IDF army reservists, and the deployment of troops to the border area.

From the Arabic point of view there is a greater willingness to support Hamas by the new government in Egypt. The question is still if this support will be military, as well as politically and financially, in the case of an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. The Egyptian Prime Ministar has stated that “the new Egypt is completely different, and determined to stop the attack on Gaza.”

The combination of the Israelis’ wish for security and state survival, and the new wave of Arabic nationalism and symphathy for the residents of Gaza, are both factors that increase the risk of conflict escalation.

 

 

Cover photo by Amir Ebrahimi, second photo by David Lisbona

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