Background: History of PA Shelling Against Israel

Mortar shelling against Israel began in early 2001, later graduated into rocket attacks, and has now become commonplace.

Hillel Fendel,

rocket launch
rocket launch
On Jan 31, 2001, for the first time in the Oslo War, Arabs shot a mortar shell into Netzarim, a Jewish town in central Gaza. The rocket hit and damaged a house, but no one was hurt. Two more mortar shells were fired at Netzarim over the next two weeks.

On March 18, Gaza Arabs fired three mortar shells at an IDF base near Kibbutz Nachal Oz in the Negev - the first such attack from Gaza at pre-1967 Israel. A reserve duty soldier on the base was lightly wounded by shrapnel. Minister of Defense Ben-Eliezer stated that Israel "will not accept the current situation and will deploy the necessary forces to protect its citizens." IDF commanders stated that the attack signals the crossing of yet another red line by terrorist forces.

On April 3, in only the 5th or 6th mortar attack on Gush Katif, toddler Ariel Yered was critically wounded by shrapnel to his head. Israel retaliated, the terrorists increased their fire, and mortar shells quickly became a commonplace occurrence and lost their shock value - but not their lethal punch. On Nov. 24, reserve soldier Barak Madmon, 26, was killed outside Kfar Darom when a mortar shell hit his IDF outpost.

In early Feb. 2002, ten months after the first shells were fired, the first Kassam-2 home-made rockets were fired at an Israeli target. They landed near Kibbutz Saad and Moshav Shuva in the Negev, both just south of Sderot.

Within a few days, on Feb. 17 of that year, Arutz-7 reported, "The firing of Kassam rockets, which Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and other officials warned would be greeted with a severe Israeli response, appears to have become a matter of course. Palestinian terrorists fired a Kassam-1 last night at an IDF command post in northern Gaza's Nisanit, while the much more far-reaching and powerful Kassam-2 was fired towards Kibbutz Kfar Aza, well within pre-1967 Israel. No one was hurt."

Two weeks later, on Mar. 5, 2002, Sderot was first targeted: Two Kassam rockets hit a home in the Negev city, wounding three children.

Mortar shells and Kassams continued to be fired at Gush Katif, and more sporadically at the Negev. On Yom Kippur eve of 2004, Tiferet Tratner, 24, became the first civilian casualty of a mortar shell attack in Gush Katif when she was killed in her home in N'vei Dekalim. A total of close to 20 soldiers, civilians and foreign workers have been killed by mortar and rocket attacks in and around Gaza and Sderot.

Ultimately, 5,905 rockets and shells were counted as having been fired at Gush Katif during its last four and a half years of existence.

On Dec. 18, 2003, less than three years after the first shell was fired, PM Ariel Sharon gave up. "If in a few months," he announced, "the Palestinians still continue to disregard their part in implementing the Roadmap – Israel will initiate the unilateral security step of disengagement from the Palestinians." A month and a half later, Sharon said, "I have given an order to plan for the evacuation of 17 settlements in the Gaza Strip. It is my intention to carry out an evacuation - excuse me, a relocation - of settlements that cause us problems and of places that we will not hold onto anyway in a final settlement, such as the Gaza settlements."

Though there have been isolated reports of Kassams in Judea and Samaria, the full power of Kassam rockets has clearly not been brought to bear in those areas. Between the time the first shell hit Gush Katif and the time Sharon made his initial Disengagement announcement, almost three years passed. If it took less than three years of mortar attacks against Jewish Gaza for Israel's government to come up with the idea of running away, how long will it take for the "Convergence Plan" in Judea and Samaria to be taken out of its deep freeze?