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Friday, June 23, 2006
Retreat advocate Yoel Marcus calls for harsh response to Qassams

Retreat advocate Yoel Marcus calls for harsh response to Qassams
[IMRA: Yoel Marcus devoted the past years encouraging Ariel Sharon to
retreat from the Gaza Strip]

An eye for an eye

By Yoel Marcus Haaretz 23 June 2006

It is easy enough for a political leader, who spends most of his life
traveling in an armored car, protected by bodyguards from all sides, to tell
Sderot residents not to panic. If Qassams were landing every day and every
night in Savyon, Ramat Aviv and Herzliya Pituah, I am not certain that Vice
Premier Shimon Peres would have uttered that stupid phrase

Peres, known for his preoccupation with defense issues, has never
experienced battle. Throughout his career, he has never been under mortar
and rocket fire. He lives in a bubble, like a Nobel Prize-winning scientist
who has an algebraic formula that nobody understands - the essence of which
is that one must not get hysterical, one must be steadfast. Theoretically,
everyone agrees with it and admires his wisdom, certainly in Paris and in
other world capitals. But when he demands that Sderot residents not panic,
he proves just how cut off he is from the people. Preaching that people
should not panic or get hysterical is justified, but the question is, why
should Sderot have to play the role of a second Massada? Is it a military
post or something? Is it an illegal settlement outpost? Is it in occupied

The moment the Israel Defense Forces evacuated Gaza and its Jewish
settlements, in which a third generation of settlers lived, and handed the
territory over to the Palestinians, the firing of Qassams should have
stopped immediately, if only to encourage Israel to continue to withdraw.
The expectations that the Palestinians would rapidly construct multistory
buildings in the evacuated territories to house refugees and create an
atmosphere of progress were dashed. Instead, the liberated territories
turned into a firing base. The increased bombardment of Israeli territory is
the last thing that Israeli peace-seekers expected following the beginning
of the end of the occupation and the separation from the dream of the
greater land of Israel.

The firing of hundreds of Qassams into Israel is not only annoying; it is
also unwise. Not only does this not serve the Palestinians, it also
strengthens Israeli opponents of evacuating most of the territories. The
Qassam launches, which have made the lives of Sderot residents hell, may
derive from rivalry among the terror organizations, or from a desire to get
rid of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). If so, they
do not need our services as mediators. There is no political logic to the
Qassam fire; it has one sole aim: to kill Israeli civilians because they are
Israelis. Only a miracle from heaven and technical flaws in the rockets have
prevented mass slaughter in Sderot. But the very fact that a town in
sovereign Israeli territory lives in fear every day is intolerable.

The internecine motives of the war of attrition that the Palestinians have
declared on us - whether it is a competition between Hamas and Islamic Jihad
or among other organizations - should not interest us. It is the
government's obligation to protect its citizens. Over time, harsh responses
have been suggested, among them wiping Beit Hanun off the face of the earth.
Amram Mitzna, both a dove and a major general, has insisted that for every
Qassam, "we have to come down on them with all our might."

The response that Israel has chosen thus far is pinpoint deterrence:
Artillery fire at every site from which Qassams are launched, from air, land
and sea. Now, pinpoint assassinations have also been added. In this method
of response, civilians, women and children are killed by mistake, to a large
extent because the terror organizations intentionally operate from within
densely populated Palestinian territory, thus endangering their own people.
And wonder of wonders: The Palestinians, who are firing exclusively at
civilian targets, are raising an outcry, while we are apologizing. The
sensitive souls among us are even infuriated at the killing of innocent and
blameless Palestinian civilians. And are the inhabitants of Sderot not
innocent and blameless? The Palestinians are knowingly and intentionally
firing indiscriminately at civilian population centers, while we are looking
for those who are doing the firing and expressing regret for killing by

A Qassam that is fired into the heart of a population center, even if it
does not kill anyone, is tantamount to a Qassam that has hit the target and
caused a mass slaughter of civilians, and it demands a strong response. The
Palestinians should know that if our civilians continue to be targeted
indiscriminately, their civilians, too, are liable to become a target. Not
in the Peres-Shmeres method, but in the eye for an eye method.

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