It’s not a joke – even if the two rockets launched against Eilat yesterday did
for the initial disorienting moments produce scenes that seemingly came straight
out of comic skits.
For the first time in Eilat’s history, sirens raised
alarm throughout the city. Since they were unfamiliar in an emergency but
familiar from the just-past Remembrance Day for the IDF fallen, the piercing
undulating sounds caused drivers to halt their vehicles, get out and stand
solemnly at attention alongside their cars with doors flung
Obviously that’s exactly what shouldn’t be done during a rocket
attack, but the sound of the siren caused confusion. It was activated by the
Iron Dome system, which identified the incoming rocket volley but for some
reason didn’t intercept it.
But none of this is funny. Indeed, it’s all
dead serious because rockets fired at a civilian population center could just as
easily have caused carnage. It’s all a matter of blind chance, turning innocent
noncombatants into pawns in a cruel game of life-and-death roulette.
is the reason that the devil’s arithmetic practiced by Israel-bashers abroad is
so fundamentally immoral.
The trend these days is to claim that the
rockets fired at Israel from Lebanon, Gaza or even from the Sinai aren’t a
genuine security threat and don’t justify Israeli counterstrikes. These rockets,
it’s asserted, simply don’t kill enough Israelis.
This is an obscene
argument, first because it appears to propose an equation whereby Israel has no
right to selfdefense unless it bleeds profusely. But more cogently, it really
doesn’t matter whether a specific rocket drew blood or not. What matters is that
it was at all aimed indiscriminately at peaceful civilians going normally about
their daily lives. It’s the potential to inflict casualties that matters and not
whether there was an actual cost in lives.
And the potential in a city
like Eilat is horrific. At a little past 9:00 in the morning, children were in
their classrooms, the airport was buzzing and activity at hotels and tourist
attractions was in full swing. A negligibly different firing trajectory could
have resulted in a major tragedy.
This is why the danger of these Grad
rockets – a version of the Russian Katyusha – must not be downplayed. One of the
two Grads actually fell in a residential neighborhood, underscoring the menace
all the more.
The very fact that an Iron Dome battery was deployed in
Eilat attests to the fact that predations on it are now expected. This is
another undesirable Arab Spring corollary.
The Sinai was a
quasi-no-man’s-land even before former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled but
the peninsula, which was never intrinsically Egyptian, is now unruly like never
It is an anarchic staging post for a sordid variety of
imported terror-mongers – from al-Qaida to Iranian proxies. Some of these are
headquartered in Gaza and venture out to the Sinai to conduct offensives from
there. A gamut of Gazan salafists especially favors this mode of
An odd pattern is established. Heavy long-range rocketry is
smuggled into Gaza via the Sinai through a network of underground tunnels.
Eventually some of these rockets are then ferried back out into the Sinai from
Gaza to be used in specific attacks on Israel.
Complicit in such
offensives are the Sinai’s Beduin tribes, which never accepted Cairo’s authority
and traditionally made their livelihood out of banditry and
The confluence of so many jihadist and outlaw elements
directly south of our border is a major concern. It is also a worry for Egypt,
much as its new powers-that-be are reluctant to admit any communality of
interests with Israel.
But the fact remains that the terrorists who
currently dominate the Sinai don’t merely target Israel. They are the very
forces that aim to undermine Egypt’s new regime.
Therefore, rather than
habitually start off by denying that anti-Israel aggression was launched from
Egyptian territory, it would be better if Cairo instead engaged in more
forthright counter-terrorism efforts. Rather than cooperate with Israel almost
surreptitiously, it would be better if Egypt boldly made its position clear and
fostered pro-peace public opinion among its people.