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Attack in Israel wounds 25 soldiers

Israel has suffered for long due to the number of crude rockets fired from Gaza. A city that suffers the most is Sderot, a city only 1 km from Gaza and well within the range of these rockets. In another of these rocket attacks, the Israeli army has now suffered serious damage, with a rocket hitting a tent in which new recruits to the Israeli army were sleeping, and wounding 25 of them, one of them seriously. Before and after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, these rockets continue to hit Israel. Crude, but easily manufactured in workshops in Gaza, the infrastructure of these rockets is not easy to destroy, and they server to continually harass the Israelis, and torment the political leadership. After all, if the much vaunted Israeli army cannot prevent crude rockets from being fired at a regular pace, then the militant groups have a symbolic victory.

Palestinian militants in Gaza fire rockets daily at towns in southern Israel. The crude rockets wreak panic but rarely cause serious casualties. Gaza’s Hamas rulers have not been actively involved, but have done nothing to halt the rocket fire. Tuesday’s attack was the largest number of injuries sustained in a single such attack against Israel.

Attacks last week on Sderot, including one near a crowded day care center, led parents to pull their children out of school and brought demands for retaliation. Israel’s Security Cabinet last week rejected calls for a large-scale Gaza invasion but threatened to cut water, electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza. Tuesday’s attack was sure to bring calls for a strong Israeli reaction. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has repeatedly said Israel would show no restraint in its efforts to stem the attacks from Gaza.

This is a ticklish situation for the Prime Minister. Now his army has been attacked, and yet he cannot prevent these rockets from getting fired on a regular basis. Cutting off food and other such supplies to Gaza carries its own political cost, and not very low either. On other hand, with the previous botched war against Hezbollah, the Prime Minister is under pressure to show his strong side. But attacking Gaza is not going to be a solution, after all, the Israelis themselves had left Gaza despite severe internal pressures; and any such attack will be sure to bring about a major conflict between Israel and Hamas, and there will be casualties, something that Ehud Olmert would really want to avoid. Tough choices, and no easy solution.

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