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The European Union is increasing pressure on Israel to end its nine-month old blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in a bid to prevent a humanitarian crisis, an Israeli official said on Thursday.”EU ministers are expressing growing concern over the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the lack of progress in the peace talks” with the Palestinians, he told AFP on condition of anonymity.”Our embassies in Europe report increasing pressure to try to end the blockade.”The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution calling on Israel to lift the siege, with MEPs saying “the policy of isolation of the Gaza Strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level.”

Come on REALLY ! Humanitarian Crisis? When you read stories about the EU like the one reported yesterday you have to wonder if anyone in the European parliament reads a newspaper. If any European countries were hit by almost 400 rockets during the month of January how would their governments react? Trust me a “blockade” would be the least of their reactions.

The pressure on Israel to make nice with Hamas simply ignores the facts on the ground the suffering of the people living in the Negev.


ROCKETS FROM GAZA: FACTS AND FIGURES

Rockets from Gaza: Facts and Figures

Executive Summary

  • If the current rate of fire continues, by the end of 2008, over 4,500 rockets and mortar shells will have been fired by Palestinian terrorist organisations based in Gaza.
  • Since 2001 rocket and mortar shell fire has been directly responsible for the deaths of 24 Israelis and the wounding of 620. This statistic does not take into account the massive psychological cost borne by the 190,000 Israelis who live within striking range. With a population almost ten times that of Israel, the corresponding UK figures would be 240 killed and 6,200 wounded in a city the size of Newcastle.
  • The problem with rockets predates the Hamas coup in Gaza, the winning by Hamas of the PA elections and the disengagement from Gaza. Indeed Israel’s western Negev communities have endured 7 years of relentless rocket and mortar shell fire.
  • For comparative purposes, note that the July 7 2005 suicide bombers each detonated 5-7kg suicide bombs killing 52 civilians and wounding 700. The average rocket fired from Gaza contains 7-8kg of explosives.

Rocket ranges from Gaza and prominent targets.[i]map of targetsclick here to view a large version of the map

  • Both the Grad and split engine Qassam 2 can strike over 12km, placing the cities of Ashkelon (population 110,000), Netivot (27,000), Sderot (23,000)[ii] and the other population centres in the western Negev within range.
  • This effectively places close to 190,000 Israeli citizens at risk, which in a country of 7,250,000 makes up about 2.6% of the population. Given the difference in population size, in the UK the equivalent would be 1,560,000[iii] citizens.
  • 45% of the rocket attacks have been fired on the southern Israeli city of Sderot.[iv]
  • Sderot has a population of 23,000, which is similar to Teesdale (24,900). In a country of 7,250,000, Sderot’s residents make up roughly 1/300 of Israel’s population. Given the difference in total population size, a comparable UK city would have a population of 190,000, such as Newcastle, Preston, or Derby.[v]
  • In 2005 the total number of Israelis killed or wounded by rockets or mortar shell fire was 90. In 2006 this figure had risen to 91. In 2007 this figure stood at 125. To date in February 2008, already 31 Israelis have been killed or wounded. If the current rate continues, over 250 Israelis will have been killed or wounded by rocket or mortar shells by the end of 2008.[vi]
  • Since 2001 rocket and mortar shell fire has been directly responsible for the deaths of 24 Israelis and the wounding of 620. This statistic does not take into account the massive psychological cost borne by the 190,000 Israelis who live within striking range. With a population almost ten times that of Israel, the corresponding UK figures would be 240 killed and 6,200 wounded in a city the size of Newcastle. [vii]
  • 90% of Sderot residents have experienced a Qassam falling on their street or one street adjacent. 30% of Sderot residents suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Children in Sderot exhibit higher levels of fear (62%), avoidance behaviour (50%), behavioural problems (22%), problems in school (28%), somatic (stress-related) problems (26%), regression (31%) and difficulty sleeping (47%) than any comparable Israeli city by population size and socio-economic demographics.[viii]

Annual distribution of rocket and mortar shell fire.[ix] graph of distribution of attacksclick here to view a large version of the graph

  • The figure above each column clearly shows that the problem with rockets predates the Hamas coup in Gaza, the winning by Hamas of the PA elections and the disengagement from Gaza. Indeed Israel’s western Negev communities have endured 7 years of relentless rocket and mortar shell fire.
  • If the current rate of fire continues, by the end of 2008, over 4,500 rockets and mortar shells will have been fired by Palestinian terrorist organisations based in Gaza.[x]
  • In January 2008, on average 12 rockets and mortar shells fell every day. This contrasts strongly with the figure for December 2007 of 7 rocket and mortar shells every day. Moreover, in November 2007 on average 5 rocket and mortar shells fell every day. It is clear that the volume of attacks is increasing.[xi]
  • Since the firing of the first rockets and mortar shells in 2001 over 5,500 rockets and mortar shells have landed in or around the western Negev. An examination of the graph above shows that the number of attacks gradually grew from 2001 until Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, when there was a temporary drop. However, over the two following years – 2006 and 2007 – there was a steady increase. In January 2008 the daily strike rate reached its highest ever levels.[xii]

Rocket models used by Gaza Strip terrorist organisations.[xiii]

Organisation Rocket models Maximum range Explosives Comparison
Hamas Qassam 1
Short Qassam 2
Long Qassam 2
Split Engine Qassam 2
3km
7-10km

10km

12km

4kg
8kg

8kg

10kg

For comparative purposes, note that the July 7 2005 suicide bombers each detonated 5-7kg suicide bombs killing 52 civilians and wounding 700
Palestinian Islamic Jihad Class A Quds 2
Class B Quds 2
Class A Quds 3
Class B Quds 3
6km

7km

8.5km

9km

8kg

8kg

6-7kg

8kg

Popular Resistance Committees Short Nasser 3
Long
Nasser 3
Nasser 4
6km

9km

9km

9-10kg

9-10kg

9-10kg

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Summud 7km 8kg
Fatah Al-Aqsa
Al-Yasser
7km
15km
8kg
15kg
All Organisations 120mm Grad (Katyusha)
80-90mm Mortar Shell
135-140mm Mortar Shell
240-250mm Mortar Shell
20.5km

1.8km

4km

2km

18kg

500g

1-1.5kg

1-2kg

  • For comparative purposes, note that the July 7 2005 suicide bombers each detonated 5-7kg suicide bombs killing 52 civilians and wounding 700. The average rocket fired from Gaza contains 7-8kg of explosives.
  • Iran and Syria are the primary state sponsors of the terrorists’ efforts to use rockets and mortars as a weapon to target the civilian [xiv]population living within range in Israel.

illustration of qassam rocket
Illustration of a Qassam rocket

  • The rockets manufactured are made of easily obtained metal pipes (such as water pipes and road signs) filled with explosives and propellants, which in most cases are improvised and made of readily-available household supplies such as sugar and agricultural fertiliser.[xv]
  • Rockets are made out of household items for two reasons:

i. Rocket manufacturers are aware that Israel will not prevent basic supplies such as sugar from reaching the Gaza Strip. ii. Homemade rockets carry no manufacturing signature, and therefore cannot be traced. [xvi]identified qassam rocket Identified Qassam rocket damage to Sderot house Damage to Sderot house [i] BICOM, Rocket ranges from Gaza and prominent targets[ii] Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Centre (IICC), ‘Rocket threat from the Gaza Strip, 2000-2007,’ December 2007. www.terrorism-info.org.il[iii] ibid[iv] ibid[v] ibid[vi] ibid[vii] ibid[viii] Israel Trauma Centre for Victims of Terror and War (NATAL), ‘The impact of the ongoing traumatic stress conditions on Sderot,’ October 2007[ix] Rocket threat from the Gaza Strip[x] ibid[xi] ibid[xii] ibid[xiii] ibid[xiv] ‘Hamas in Iran: Expect terror waves in Israel,’ Haaretz, 7 February 2008. www.haaretz.com[xv] Rocket threat from the Gaza Strip[xvi] On 29 December 2007, 6.5 tonnes of the banned substance potassium nitrate, used to manufacture explosives and Qassam rockets, were discovered by the IDF. They were disguised in sugar bags marked as humanitarian aid provided by the EU. www.reuters.com

and when you are done reading these facts go over to my friend Yael (Boker Tov Boulder) and read about the wonderful thing that happened in Sderot today

What happened [in Sderot] today was beautiful”

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