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Getting Ready for the Next Gaza War

By Michael Freund
10/2/2006, 12:00 AM

If you haven't heard much about what's happening in Gaza lately, don't be fooled into thinking that all is quiet on Israel's southern front.

Palestinian terrorists continue to fire Kassam rockets on a daily basis from Gaza into Israel, even if the media hardly bothers to report it. Just today, in fact, two rockets hit the Israeli town of Sderot, leaving one woman injured and seven others requiring treatment for shock.

But even more worrisome is what's taking place behind the scenes and just below the surface. As an article in Ha'aretz makes clear, Hamas is busy preparing for nothing less than war with Israel.

Hamas_terrorists_prepare_for_next_round_Citing Israeli military sources, the paper notes that, "Since the beginning of the year, more than 20 tons of explosives, anti-aircraft missiles and antitank missiles have been smuggled into Gaza."

Furthermore, Hamas has been aiming to improve the weapons in its arsenal: "By increasing the range of its missiles, the deadly force of their warheads and above all, by using high-quality blast explosives, Hamas hopes to heighten the threat to the northern and western Negev from the direction of Gaza," the report says.

"If Hamas succeeds in improving the rockets in its possession, it will be able to store them for months, as opposed to just days, as it does now. That would enable the organization to fire massive salvos at the Negev for days at a time during periods of escalation, as Hezbollah did in northern Israel during the second Lebanon war."

And so, while our own political leaders hem and haw as to what to do, Hamas is taking advantage of Israel's indecisiveness and laying the groundwork for an ugly confrontation in the future.

But instead of waiting for this to happen, instead of giving Hamas time to prepare, wouldn’t it make more sense for Israel to strike now?

Must we repeat the mistakes that preceded this summer's Lebanon war, when Israel sat back and allowed Hizbullah to build up its army and its defensive positions in advance of the conflict?

Is anyone in our leadership paying attention?