INTO THE FRAY: A 660 lbs. war crime

For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column

 A 660 lbs. war crime
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“Such a missile would pulverize a house to dust. It blasted a crater that is impossible to describe… There is no protection that can defend us in the case of missiles like this.”– Gaza-border resident  

It appears this week on the following sites (in alphabetical order):

JERUSALEM HERALD:  (To be posted)

Several short excerpts: 

The IDF is investigating the incident [in which Arab civilians were hit in the latest round of fighting in Gaza]; Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are investigating why [Israeli] civilians were NOT hit – MK Benny Gantz (Blue & White), in an exchange in the Knesset with MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List), over recent events in Gaza 

I have written on Gaza in my last two columns—one just before the latest round of fighting there—and one just after it. So, I guess it would have been reasonable to focus on some other topic this week.

Last Thursday morning…

Indeed, as it happens, there was an abundance of other events that were eminently worthy of attention …However, despite the adequate menu of prospective alternatives, I have decided once again to focus on Gaza, and to highlight an ominous aspect of the recent fighting that I feel merits far greater attention than that which has been accorded it so far.

Last Thursday morning, residents of an unspecified community, near the Gaza border…woke to discover a dismaying sight … All that remained of what once was a modern greenhouse was a gaping crater, over 6 feet deep and over 50ft wide—the result of a single rocket that had landed there at 2 am that same day.

“We need to flee like mice…”

According to Israeli sources, the cause of the unusually large explosion was a relatively new acquisition by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—a short-range missile with range of reportedly up to five kilometers, but capable of carrying a huge explosive warhead of above 300 kg (660 lbs.). It is believed that Hamas also has similar weaponry. Significantly, these deadly rockets, named “Burkan” and previously used in Syria and Iraq, are now thought to be produced locally in the Gaza Strip.

The reactions of the residents to the explosion, as reported by Tamir Steinman, Channel 2’s correspondent for the South are both alarming and edifying... 

For almost a decade…

The emerging use of such high explosive missiles and the reaction of the Gaza-border residents reflect two disturbing phenomena, of which I have warned—repeatedly—for almost a decade.

The one is that… eventually those terror groups manage to find some measure to circumvent or undermine the effectiveness of Israeli defenses.

The other is that, as long as Gaza remains intact…Israel will eventually be faced with the specter of Jewish depopulation of the South.

An inconvenient fact

Indeed, it will inevitably have to face the inconvenient fact that there will either be Jews in the Negev or Arabs in Gaza—but, in the long run, there will not be both….In this regard, see for example: .

On domes and drones (September 13, 2019)
Will the growing use of drones by the Gaza-based terror groups make the billion-dollar Iron Dome and anti-tunnel barrier useless—or at least irrelevant?…

Iron Dome is “not a hermetic” defense

Without wishing to detract from the tremendous technological accomplishment of the Iron Dome, it is not—even as its most avid advocates would admit—a totally hermetic defense system. Indeed, according to Aviation Week, the Iron Dome has proved to be impressively 90% effective…However, given the scope of the new menace of massive warheads, a 10% “leakage”, or even less, could have a catastrophic effect in terms of death and damage.

A 660 lbs. war crime

… the principal targets of the Gazan-based terror groups are civilians. After all, given the short range and inaccuracy of Burkan missiles, it is clear that it is not designed to destroy military installations. Thus, as a YNetnews analysis points out: “The Burkan is meant to be used to rain down destruction on Israeli communities close to the Gaza border…Accordingly, every time it is deployed against civilian targets in the South, it is in effect a 660 lbs. war crime—and should be treated as such.

Convergence to one conclusion

So, as I have argued repeatedly in the past, it matters little from which aspect the conflict in Gaza is approached. They all converge to one inescapable conclusion…

* The only way to ensure who rules – and does not rule – Gaza is for Israel to rule it itself.

* The only way for Israel to do this without “ruling over another people” is to relocate the “other people” outside the territory it is obliged to administer.

* The only way to effect such relocation of the “other people”, without forcible kinetic expulsion, is by economic inducements i.e. by means of a comprehensive system of enticing material incentives to leave and daunting disincentives to stay.

Implementing this inescapable conclusion is, without doubt, one of the greatest challenges facing the Zionist endeavor today.

As usual your talkbacks/comments/critiques welcome,

Best wishes,


Martin Sherman is the founder & executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

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