Palestinian terrorists in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip fired a Grad missile, which landed near the southern Israeli town of Netivot – about 15 km inside Israeli territory.

 Behind the Headlines: Grad missile fired from Gaza hits Netivot

 

Photo: Rafi Babayan, Security officer, Sdot Negev Regional Council

On Sunday morning (7 Oct 2007), Palestinian terrorists in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip fired a Grad missile, which landed near the southern Israeli town of Netivot – about 15 km inside Israeli territory. The 122 mm Grad heavy artillery rocket, apparently produced in the former Soviet Union and smuggled into Gaza from Egypt, is an improved version of the infamous Katyusha rocket recently used by the Hizbullah to bombard northern Israel from Lebanese territory.
 
The use of this weapon marks a significant escalation in the Palestinian campaign of terror against Israeli civilians. The Grad attack is an escalation both in the range of the missile as well as the destructive force of the missile’s warhead.
 
In addition to the attack on Netivot, eight mortar shells fell in Kibbutz Keren Shalom, one landing a direct hit on a house, causing extensive damage. Three locally produced Kassam rockets were also fired from the northern Gaza Strip, landing in the area of the Sdot Negev Regional Council.
 
These attacks, particularly the use of a Grad missile, are yet another attempt by terrorists to influence political events through the use of violence. The extremist terrorists, operating under the Hamas umbrella in Gaza, timed their attack to cause maximum disruption to the burgeoning political process between Israel and the moderate Palestinian leadership led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

This week, US Secretary of State Rice is visiting the region in order to advance the international meeting planned to take place in November in Annapolis to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. Quartet envoy Tony Blair is also in the area, in order to promote cooperation between the sides. The Israeli and Palestinian working groups established in last week’s meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and PA President Abbas are slated to meet this week in order to map out common ground in advance of the November meeting. The terrorist escalation at this time is aimed at derailing this important movement through the use of indiscriminate violence against Israeli civilians.
 
The situation in Israeli communities bordering Gaza has become intolerable. Almost-daily rocket attacks have disrupted the lives of the residents, destroyed homes and businesses, damaged schools, kindergartens and other public buildings and led to an entire generation of children being severely traumatized by the constant threat of deadly attack. Now, with the use of even longer range weapons, even more cities have fallen under the extremists’ range of terror.

This escalation cannot be tolerated.
 
Israel’s disengagement from Gaza two years ago has only led to more attacks and to more terrorism. Since the disengagement, over 2000 artillery rockets and hundreds of mortar bombs have struck Israeli territory, leading to the deaths of 14 Israelis and the injury of hundreds more. Much of this violence has occurred since the Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June of this year.

Last month, Israel determined that Gaza is a hostile territory, controlled by Hamas – an organization dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel. Indeed, the Hamas is recognized as a terrorist group by many others in the democratic world, including the EU, Canada, US, Australia and Japan.

No matter which particular group claims responsibility for the Grad missile fired today, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and gives its approval and praise for these attacks, bears the ultimate responsibility.