Israel's Southern Border


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Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, neighboring
Israeli cities and towns have endured an
increased bombardment of rocket attacks. Iranian-
backed terrorist groups in Gaza have fired nearly
13,000 rockets towards Israel in the past decade,
the majority of which were launched after Israel’s
2005 withdrawal from Gaza.
More than 1,000,000 Israelis live within range of
rocket and mortar attacks. The arsenal is growing,
and many of the rockets are long-range. Israel has
managed to minimize casualties by investing hundreds
of millions of dollars in civil defense. Despite
this, once air-raid sirens are triggered by incoming
rockets, civilians only have from 15 to 60 seconds
to run and reach safety before the rockets explode.
In the past six years rockets fired from Gaza have
killed 44 Israelis and wounded over 1,600 more.

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Israel's Southern Border

  1. 1. 1 The Israel Project Jerusalem Office Tel: 972 2 623-6427 Fax: 972 2 623-6439 Twitter: @israelproject Facebook: YouTube: Southern Border Media Kit
  2. 2. 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS About TIP 3 Missiles, Rockets & Mortars - Facts & Stats 4 Hamas & Gaza since Operation Cast Lead 5 Israeli cities within Qassam rocket range 6 Hamas-backed terrorism and Israeli casualties 7 Gaza Terror Groups 10 Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System 13 Timeline of Mid-East Peace Process 14 Trade & Humanitarian Aid into Gaza 17 Last updated: March 11, 2013 ABOUT TIP
  3. 3. 3 The Israel Project (TIP) is a non-profit educational organization that gets facts about Israel and the Middle East to press, public officials and the public. The Israel Project is not affiliated with any government. Our team of trusted Middle East multi-lingual experts and former reporters provides journalists and leaders with fact sheets, backgrounders and sources. TIP regularly hosts press briefings featuring leading Israeli spokespeople and analysts that give journalists an opportunity to get information and answers to their questions face-to-face. By providing journalists with the facts, context and visuals they need, TIP enables hundreds of millions of people around the world to see a more positive public face of Israel. This helps protect Israel, reduce anti-Semitism and increase pride in Israel. The Jerusalem Office The Israel Project's (TIP) Jerusalem Office is a non-governmental resource working with foreign journalists and leaders based in Israel. It provides reporters and members of the diplomatic community with needed facts and information before they file their stories/reports. TIP's Jerusalem team features several Middle East experts and former journalists. TIP's Israel team, led by Marcus Sheff, includes experts who are fluent in English, Hebrew, Arabic, French, German, Farsi and Russian. Contacts Marcus Sheff Executive Director Tel: +972 2-623-6427 Cell: +972 54-807-9177 E-mail: David Harris Director of Research and Content Tel: +972 2-623-6427 Cell: +972 54-807-9498 E-mail: Eli Ovits Director of Communications Tel: +972 2 623-6427 Cell: +972 54-807-9093 E-mail: Shimrit Meir-Gilboa Director of Arabic Media Program Tel: +972 2-623-6427 Cell: +972 54-801-5982 E-mail: Sharon Segel Communications Associate Tel: +972 2-623-6427 Cell: +972 54-807-9078 E-mail: Ronit Shebson Senior Communications Associate Tel: +972 2-623-6427 Cell: +972 54-807-9065 E-mail: Shai Oseran Media Tours Coordinator Tel: +972 2-623-6427 Cell: +972 54-803-3471 E-mail: Dor Kaidar Communications Associate Tel: +972 2-623-6427 Cell: +972 54-700-4812 E-mail: Rockets and Mortars – Facts and Stats
  4. 4. 4 Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, neighboring Israeli cities and towns have endured an increased bombardment of rocket attacks. Iranian-backed terrorist groups in Gaza have fired nearly 12,000 rockets towards Israel in the past decade, the majority of which were launched after Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. More than 1,000,000 Israelis live within range of rocket and mortar attacks. The arsenal is growing, and many of the rockets are long-range. Rocket Exposure:1 • 92% of Sderot residents have experienced a Qassam rocket fall near them • 56% of Sderot residents’ homes or neighbors’ homes have been directly or indirectly (shrapnel) hit by a rocket • 65% of Sderot residents know someone injured by a rocket • 49% of Sderot residents know someone killed by a rocket Psychological Trauma: • 75% - 94% of Sderot children exhibit symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 2 • 28% of Sderot adults suffer from PTSD, three times the average national rate 3 • 80% of Sderot residents exhibit symptoms of anxiety 4 Economic Impact:5 • Prices of homes and sales at Sderot businesses have both dropped nearly 50 percent in the past decade due to the impact of the rocket fire • 20-30% of businesses and 11 factories in Sderot and the surrounding areas have shut down Home and Property Damage:6 • Palestinian rockets directly hit more than 1,500 Israeli homes and buildings in the south • During Operation Cast Lead, close to 1,900 cases were filed to the Israeli government for damage caused to homes and property by Hamas rocket attacks 1 Berger, Rony; Gelkopf, Marc, “The Impact of the Ongoing Traumatic Stress Conditions on Sderot,” NATAL, Oct. 2007. 2 Ashkenazi, Eli; Grinberg, Mijal, “Study: Most Sderot kids exhibit post-traumatic stress symptoms,” Haaretz, Jan. 17, 2008, 3 Ashkenazi, Eli; Grinberg, Mijal, “Study: Most Sderot kids exhibit post-traumatic stress symptoms,” Haaretz, Jan. 17, 2008, 4 Dalia Itzhik, Psychologist, Sderot Trauma Center, Jan. 2008 5 Bar Meir, Oved; Levi Yaacov, “Paying a High Price,” Mynet (Hebrew), Jan. 15, 2009,,7340,L- 3656145,00.html 6 Wolf, Pinchas, “Dame of the War: 1,900 claims of a direct hit,” Walla (Hebrew), Jan. 21, 2009,
  5. 5. 5 Hamas and Gaza since Operation Cast Lead Hamas’ military and security infrastructure was severely damaged during Operation Cast Lead. Since the end of the operation however, the organization has made strenuous efforts to re-arm (aided heavily by Iran), restore its control over the territory, rebuild its military infrastructure and prevent the Palestinian Authority from re-asserting control. 7 Hamas’ efforts include: • Dozens of tons of standard explosives and other rocket building material smuggled in, as have scores of Grad rockets with ranges of 25 miles (40km), hundreds of mortal shells and dozens of anti-tank weapons 8 • Hundreds of smuggling tunnels used to deliver arms, merchandise, equipment and fuel have been re-dug since the end of Cast Lead. As many as 1,500 tunnels now exist under the Gaza-Egypt border 9 • Smugglers transport weapons from Iran to Yemen, on to Sudan and then to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula from where they are brought into the Gaza Strip through the tunnels 10 • Hamas has received more advanced rockets than it previously possessed. On Nov. 3, 2009, Hamas test fired a rocket 37 miles (60 km) into the Mediterranean Sea. Such rockets put Tel Aviv within range of Hamas’ rocket fire 11 7 “The Gaza Strip after Operation Cast Lead,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, June 2009, http://www.terrorism- 8 Ibid. 9 El-Khodary, Taghreed, “Goods Flood Gaza’s Tunnels, Turning Border Area Into a Shopping Mecca,” The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2009, 10 Melman, Yossi; Harel, Amos; Ravid, Barak, “IAF airstrike in Sudan hit convoy of weapons destined for Gaza,” JPost, March 27, 2009, 11 Katz, Yaakov; Stoil, Rebecca Anna, “Yadlin: ‘Hamas has many 60-km range missiles’,” Current rocket-range capabilities of Gaza-based terror groups.
  6. 6. 6 Israeli Cities in Qassam Rocket Range – Israel’s Strategic Vulnerability Courtesy: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), Defensible Borders
  7. 7. 7 Hamas-backed Terrorism and Israeli Casualties Iran-backed Hamas continues to strengthen its military power in Gaza, especially by smuggling high- quality weaponry from the Sinai Peninsula through the tunnels in Rafah in southern Gaza. Sinai is becoming Gaza’s “backyard” when it comes to the amount of weaponry destined for smuggling to the Gaza Strip. • March 15, 2012: Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated an agreement reached earlier in the week and fired anti-personnel rockets at Israeli cities, as mayors ordered schools closed in the face of incessant rocket attacks. The agreement mediated by Egypt on Monday called for a halt in rocket fire and Israeli operations as of 1 a.m. on Tuesday, but since then terrorists in Gaza fired at least 13 rockets and five mortars at Israeli civilian targets. Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system shot down three rockets that were heading for populated areas of the city of Beersheba. 12 • March 11-13 2012: More than 170 rockets and mortars targeted Israeli homes on the southern border. At least eight civilians were wounded in the attacks. An Islamic Jihad spokesman claimed that since Friday his organization had fired 180 rockets, including 80 Grad rockets, Reshet Bet reported. Schools within the range of the deadly rockets remained closed, with a quarter million students kept home for safety. The rockets, fired from Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, are equipped with a 20 kg warhead that is packed with thousands of steel ball bearings to increase its deadly effect. • February 2012: Gaza-based terrorists fired at least eight rockets as UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon visited the Palestinian enclave. • October 29, 2011 – Father-of-four Moshe Ami is killed by shrapnel from rocket in Ashkelon. • August 19-21, 2011: Some 100 rockets launched at Israel in 3 days targeting schools, homes and synagogues. Over the weekend, Yossi Shoshan, 38, was killed and five others were critically injured from rocket fire launched at Beersheba and Ashkelon. Sixteen people were wounded in total. The Iron Dome intercepted 4 grads fired from Gaza. A school in Beersheba was directly-hit. There were no injuries due to students away on summer vacation. 13 • August 18, 2011: Terrorists, thought to have come from the Gaza Strip, killed at least eight Israelis, including women and children, and wounded as many as 40 others in multiple coordinated attacks on public buses and private cars just north of the Red Sea tourist town of Eilat. 14 • August 15, 2011: Palestinian terrorists strike Beersheba, major Israeli city, with long-range Grad rocket. 15 Since 2011, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired 365 rockets and mortars at Israel, 127 more rockets and mortars since 2010. • July 2011 – Over 30 rockets fired at civilians from Gaza since July 1, totaling 348 this year alone. 16 • April 7-9, 2011- Anti-tank missile strikes school bus in Negev on April 7, critically injuring a 16- year-old boy who later died of his injuries. 17 Shortly afterwards began a barrage of 120 mortars and rockets fired onto southern Israel 12 Cohen, Gili and Yagna, Yanir, “Three rockets fired at Be'er Sheva on seventh day of Israel-Gaza violence”, March 15, 2012 1.418798 13 Katz, Yaakov, “School in Beersheba hit as “Iron Dome” intercepts 4 Grads, Jerusalem Post, August 21, 2011, 14 Katz, Yaakov, “Timeline of the attacks on the Sinai border”, Jerusalem Post, August 18, 2011 15 Curiel, Ilana, “Rocket explodes near Be’er Sheva: No injuries,” Ynet, August, 15, 2011,7340,L-4109326,00.html 16Katz, Yaakov, “Iron Dome battery moved south after Gaza-rocket attacks,” Jerusalem Post, August 5, 2011
  8. 8. 8 • March 23, 2011- Six mortar shells hit western Negev south of Ashkelon, one was found to contain white phosphorous 18 • March 19, 2011- Fifty-four rockets were fired from Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza at Israel in the span of a few hours 19 • 2011- The year starts with at least 2 projectiles fired every day, wounding both Israelis and foreigners 20 • December 28, 2010- Rockets from Gaza land near a kindergarten close to Ashkelon, part of an intensified bombardment campaign by Hamas and its allies in Gaza 21 • December 22, 2010- After the week saw over a dozen rocket attacks from Gaza, the U.N. condemns Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza for causing a rise in violence from Gaza 22 • December 11, 2010- 2 Palestinian terrorists are killed and 1 IDF soldier wounded during a firefight on the Gaza border. IDF sources say there was an average of 1 terrorist related incident every 3 days in 2010 23 • November 2010- Rocket and mortar attacks continue and firefights between IDF forces and Palestinian terrorists occur on the Gaza border 24 • October 2010- Rocket and mortar attacks continue from Gaza, although there are no resulting physical casualties 25 • September 2010- September sees a surge in terrorist attacks by Palestinians. 4 Israeli civilians are wounded in attacks near Hebron in Ramallah and rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza increase dramatically in an attempt to stall the new direct peace negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas 26 • August 31, 2010- Hamas terrorists attack and kill four Israeli civilians, including a pregnant woman, outside of Kiryat Arba 27 • July 6, 2010- Israeli Navy Commandos stop a unit of heavily armed Palestinian terrorists trying to come ashore in Israel. • May 31, 2010- Israel stops a flotilla of ships from Turkey on their way to Gaza after they refuse to put in at Ashkelon and be inspected for weapons. 28 Israeli guarantees all aid will be delivered to Gaza after security checks 17 Katz, Yaakov, and Lappin, Yaakov, “Boy, 16, badly hurt after Hamas fires missile at school bus,” Jerusalem Post, Apr. 08, 2011, 18 “News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Mar. 23- 29, 2011, 19 Lappin, Yaakov, Yaakov Katz and Rebecca Anna Sto, “Palestinian rocket slams into Ashkelon,” The Jerusalem Post, March 21, 2011. 20 21 Susser, Leslie. "Gaza-Israel border heats up as Hamas acquires new weapons." Jewish Telegraphic Agency. December 28, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011). 22 Irish Times Staff. "Gaza Militants Condemned Over Attack." The Irish Times. December 22, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011). 23 IDF Spokesperson. "IDF Soldier Wounded, 2 Palestinians Killed in Gaza Incident." IDF Blog. December 11, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011). 24 Bajec, Alessandra. PFLP Set Ambushes for IDF Troopts in Gaza. International Middle East Media Center. November 26, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011). 25 IDF Spokesperson. "Rocket Attacks Towards Israel." IDF Blog. October 7, 2010. attacks-toward-israel/ (accessed January 3, 2011). 26 Bannoura, Saed. Settler, His Wife Wounded Near Hebron. International Middle East Media Center. September 26, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011). 27 Kershner, Isabel. "Killing of Israeli Settlers Rattles Leaders." The New York Times. August 31, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011).
  9. 9. 9 • March 2010- March sees a dramatic rise in terrorist attacks, to 125 - many of them missile strikes — compared to 53 in February. Two IDF soldiers are killed in a shooting attack March 26 and a foreign worker in a rocket attack March 18 29 • February 10, 2010- A Palestinian police officer stabs a Druze IDF soldier to death at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank 30 • 2009- Acts of terrorism drop dramatically, 2009 being the first year in over a decade in which there were no suicide bombings. This is attributed to Hamas efforts to quietly rebuild after Operation Cast Lead, although 774 rocket and mortar attacks are still launched from Gaza, resulting in over 170 civilian casualties • 28 December 2008- Due to Hamas ceasefire violations and ongoing bombardment of civilian areas from Gaza, Israel launches Operation Cast Lead. International pressure forces the sides to accept a ceasefire less than a month later. Although still in effect, it is often violated by Hamas and other Gaza-based groups • June 19, 2008- An Egyptian brokered ceasefire goes into effect between Hamas and Israel. However, rocket and mortar attacks do not cease • January 2008- Due to ongoing Hamas-led violence, Israel restricts access to and from Gaza and initiates a blockade of the coast of Gaza. Israel launches Operation Hot Winter to counter Hamas’ rocket attacks in late February. 3,278 mortars and rockets are fired from Gaza in 2008, resulting in 18 deaths and 321 wounded • May 2007- Another major surge in violence after Hamas launches a coup against the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority government in Gaza. 2,433 rockets and mortars are fired from Gaza, resulting in 7 civilian deaths and 343 wounded • 2006- A series of battles between the IDF and Hamas (and its allies) results in the IDF launching operations into the Gaza Strip. During this time Gilad Shalit is kidnapped by Hamas, 1,130 rockets and mortars are fired into Israel, resulting in 17 Israeli civilian deaths and 163 wounded • September 12, 2005- Israel voluntarily withdraws from the Gaza Strip. 479 mortars and rockets fired towards Israel from Gaza, resulting in 42 civilian deaths and 68 wounded 28 Keinon, Herb. "J'lem, Turkey may find resolution to flotilla legal issues." The Jerusalem Post. December 9, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011). 29 "Palestinian attacks on Israel doubled in March." The World Tribune. April 13, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011). 30 Blomfeld, Adrian. "Israeli soldier stabbed to death in West Bank." The Telegraph. February 10, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011).
  10. 10. 10 Gaza Terror Groups: Hamas31 Hamas derives from the Muslim Brotherhood and is unwilling to recognize Israel's right to exist. Hamas sees holy war as the religious duty of every Muslim. As such, Hamas does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state. Its founding charter commits the group to the destruction of Israel, the replacement of the PA with an Islamist state on the West Bank and Gaza, and to raising "the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine." Hamas is an Islamist Palestinian movement that was created in 1987. During the period of the First Intifada, Muslim Brotherhood members, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Mohammad Taha conspired to create this movement. Throughout the 1990s and the Second Intifada, Hamas carried out numerous suicide bombings, kidnappings and shootings. The movement condones civilian attacks and has taken responsibility (or supported) the firing of Qassam rockets from Gaza to Israeli sovereign territory. Recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, Israel, and Canada, it won the majority of seats in the parliamentary elections in 2006.In June 2007, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip followed by internal Palestinian fighting. As a result, the government in Ramallah was dissolved. Hamas is also known for its social welfare activities which include building hospitals and schools and providing financial assistance to the needy. Khaled Mashaal, Political leader of Hamas - August 30, 2010 "Now, its [Israel's] heartland is a field of battle for the Palestinian resistance.” Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri - May 20, 2007 “The Palestinian resistance, especially Hamas and its armed wing Izzedine al-Qassam, will keep up launching homemade shells on the Israeli settlements and communities.” Islamic Jihad32 The Islamic Jihad, like Hamas, is derived from Muslim Brotherhood principles. Their main goals are jihad, or holy war, and eliminating Israel with a view to creating an Islamic state in Palestine. Unlike Hamas, it has no civil branch. Its main focus is on guerilla warfare and terror activities. The Islamic Jihad operated mainly in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but has also carried out attacks in Jordan and Lebanon. The Islamic Jihad, with its leadership located in Syria, is financed almost exclusively by Iran. Millions of dollars a year are funneled to the group, mainly for terror activities. 31,7340,L-3377113,00.html 32,7340,L-3484933,00.html
  11. 11. 11 The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was founded by Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd al-Aziz Awda in the 1970s, as a branch of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. In 1995, Fathi Shaqaqi was assassinated in Malta. Currently, Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah heads the organization from his hiding place in Damascus. The Islamic Jihad claimed hundreds of attacks on Israel, carrying out some 422 bombings, shootings and stabbings, in which 134 Israelis were killed and approximately 880 were injured. Since 2006, aided by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad has escalated the barrage of Qassam rockets and mortar shells fired at southern Israel. The Islamic Jihad is defined as a terror group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel. Abu Ahmed, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Spokesman - Sept. 4, 2007 “The rockets have become accurate, they hardly miss, and most important – they manage to disrupt the Israelis’ lives…We definitely planned to increase the rocket fire when the school year opened.” 33 Popular Resistance Committee34 The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) is a terrorist group founded by operatives from Fatah, Iran- backed Hamas, Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in September 2000. The PRC was one of the groups that participated in the 2006 abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, an Israeli-French citizen who was kidnapped from Israel and continues to be held hostage by Hamas. The PRC also has been linked to the bombing of a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Gaza in October 2003 in which three American security guards were killed. Iran-backed Hamas has in the past used the PRC to step up terrorist activity against Israel so that Hamas can deny responsibility for the attacks while continuing its campaign of violence against Israeli citizens. Founded in 2000 at the start of the Second Intifada, Hamas provides the PRC with operational support, weapons, training and funding. Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades35 Led by Marwan Barghouti, with its headquarters in Nablus and Ramallah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was formed as the military arm of Yasser Arafat's political party, al Fatah (Palestinian Authority), shortly after the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. Financed in part by the Palestinian Authority, it has conducted some of the deadliest and most destructive attacks on Israeli civilians. The Al Aqsa 33 Waked, Ali “Al-Quds Brigades: Sderot strike strengthens us”, YnetNews, Sept. 4, 2007,,7340,L-3445458,00.html 34 “The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) Terrorist Organization 2006-2007,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 5, 2008, +Obstacle+to+Peace/Terror+Groups/The%20Popular%20Resistance%20Committees%20Terrorist%20Organization%202006-2007; Lt. Col. (res.) Halev, Jonathan D. “The Popular Resistance Committees: Hamas' New Partners?,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, May 17, 2006, 35
  12. 12. 12 Martyrs Brigades is comprised primarily of veterans of older militant groups. It is a secular organization whose ideology is centered on Palestinian nationalism, and national liberation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem through armed struggle. In recent years the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has worked with various other militant Palestinian groups, claiming joint responsibility for attacks with groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.The group has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings and bus attacks. The group also dispatched the first female suicide bomber. In 2002, the US designated Al-Aqsa as a foreign terrorist organization. Al-Qaeda affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades36 The Abdullah Azzam Brigades is an organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad. The organization has an active network in Lebanon, which fired rockets on Israel. The group, operating since 2009, also operates from the Sinai Peninsula, and has carried out attacks primarily on targets in Egypt, Jordan and Israel. The organization is headed by Saleh al-Qar’awai. The group is named after Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian who led Islamic militants in Afghanistan and was killed in 1989 by a roadside bomb. The Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades37 The Izzedeen al-Qassam Brigades (IQB) is the well-armed military wing of Hamas. It seeks to conquer all of Israel, “from the south of Beersheba to north of Beit She’an,” by carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel, including numerous suicide bombings, rocket attacks, shootings and kidnappings. In June 2006, the group claimed responsibility for kidnapping Cpl. Gilad Shalit. The group continues to fight Israeli military forces and attack civilians. In 2006, they claim to have launched over 470 Qassam rockets at Israeli settlements. The IQB became the official armed wing of Hamas in 1991 when various militant cells merged. It is an extremely secretive organization made up of independent terror cells. Israeli officials estimate about 7,500 active IQB members, although the total number of fighters is unclear due to the IQB’s level of secrecy. The IQB has attacked Israel using Qassam rockets, Al Yasin anti-tank missiles and an array of firearms that it has gathered from various sources (including weapons seized from Fatah during the take-over of the Gaza Strip). IQB also attacks Israel using suicide bombings, including against civilian targets inside Israel, and kidnapping. 36 37
  13. 13. 13 Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System Iron Dome is a mobile defense system that shoots down incoming rockets with ranges of up to 43.5 miles (70 km) before they land. The system was developed and produced by Israeli manufacturers and was initially funded by the Israeli government. In 2010 the American government voted to support the Iron Dome development with $205 million in funding. 38 Following the increase in rocket and mortar attacks in the south of Israel, the decision was made by the Israel Defense Forces to deploy the new missile-defense system. 39 On April 7, 2011, an Iron Dome battery intercepted a Katyusha rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, aimed at Ashkelon. 40 Nine Grad and Qassam rockets were later successfully intercepted over the weekend of April 7-9, 2011, which saw some 120 mortars and rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. Iron Dome also successfully intercepted dozens of rockets in August 2011 and most recently in March, 2012 when it scored a 90% success rate against dozens of Grad rockets being fired at Israeli cities by several terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip 41 . The ground-breaking defense system counters short range rockets and 155 mm artillery shell threats that have ranges of up to 43 miles (70km). Its radar detects and identifies the rocket or artillery shell launch and monitors its trajectory. The threat’s trajectory is quickly analyzed and the expected impact point is 38 Jerusalem Post, US approves $205m. for Iron Dome, 39 “Iron Dome” System to be Deployed Across Southern Israel,” IDF Spokesperson Blog, Mar. 24, 2011, 40 Katz, Yaakov, “Iron Dome works in combat, intercepts Katyusha rocket,” Jerusalem Post, Apr. 07, 2011, 41 CNN, Israel's 'Iron Dome' anti-rocket system in play during ongoing strife, iron-dome/?hpt=hp_t3
  14. 14. 14 estimated; if it poses a critical threat, an interceptor is quickly launched. The warhead is detonated over a neutral area, thereby reducing collateral damage to the protected area. 42 The Iron Dome system has been deployed outside of Beersheba - a city of some 200,000 people, south of Ashkelon and in Ashdod. Gaza is 23 miles (37 km) away from Ashdod. Additional units are in production and will be deployed in the near future to aid in defending the civilian population in the south. The Israeli Defense Ministry and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which manufactures the system, hope to deliver two more batteries by the end of 2012, bringing the total number of operational Iron Dome systems to six. Timeline of the Middle East Peace Process • Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 • Peace negotiations with the Palestinians have at times achieved important progress but have been set back often by military hostilities and terrorism • Israel has consistently affirmed its willingness to give up land for peace and security and proved this with its withdrawal from Sinai and unilateral military redeployments from Gaza and South Lebanon May 2012: Israeli Prime Minister sent a letter to Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, in response to a letter last month sent by Abbas to Netanyahu. While the contents of the note were not made public it is understood Netanyahu urged Abbas to return to face-to-face peace talks. The Israeli desire for a peace deal received a boost last week when Kadima, formerly the main opposition party, joined Netanyahu’s coalition. One of the key policies agreed by the new unity government was the serious advancement of the peace process. April 2012: A draft version of the letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was leaked 43 giving a list of Palestinian complaints and accusations against Israel. Among the demands was a call for Israel to stop all construction in disputed territories and release Palestinian prisoners including all those convicted of terrorist bombings. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said despite the difficulties with the Palestinians, Israel wanted to push forward with direct peace talks towards a two-state solution.“Our position is known. We want negotiations without preconditions. We are aiming for the solution of two states for two peoples,” Barak said in an Army Radio interview. “You need two to tango and until now it was difficult to get the Palestinians to discussions without them raising pre-conditions.” January 30, 2012: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed on Sunday the “hope that the Palestinians will stay in the talks in order to reach, in the end, concrete negotiations between us on a peace agreement.” He made the comment during the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, just days after the Palestinian negotiating team walked out of talks held in the Jordanian capital Amman. 44 January 15, 2012: Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators meet in Amman under a Jordanian- sponsored attempt to restart full peace negotiations.The international Quartet, comprising the United 42 “Iron Dome,” Rafael, (accessed Apr. 10, 2011) 43 “Text of Abbas’ letter to Netanyahu”, The Times of Israel, April 14, 2012 abbass-letter-to-netanyahu/ 44 Coughlin, Colin, “The Palestinians are doing their best to derail peace talks with Israel”, The Telegraph, January 24, 2012, derail-peace-talks-with-israel/
  15. 15. 15 Nations, United States, European Union and Russia, asked both sides to submit their positions on the issues of borders and security by January 26. Aided by Jordan, the Quartet is trying to find common ground between the two sides. January 3, 2012: The Kingdom of Jordan called to hold a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators in an attempt to restart the moribund peace talks between the two sides. Iranian-backed Hamas called on its fellow Palestinians to boycott the Amman meeting. 45 December 2011: Netanyahu: “We are willing to meet with the Palestinians anytime and anywhere” October 2011: Israel accepts the Quartet’s proposal for international mediators to resume peace negotiations. News outlets report that Netanyahu offers to freeze government construction in the West Bank in an effort to restart talks. September 2011: Rather than pursuing direct negotiations, the Palestinian Authority (PA) launches a diplomatic bid for unilateral recognition of statehood at the United Nations. World leaders call the move a step away from a long-term, negotiated peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians. May 2011: The PA and Iran-backed Hamas announce a unification deal, brokered by Egypt and signed on May 4 in Cairo. PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with his counterpart in Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, for the first time since 2006. Israel worried that the reconciliation could mean a blow to the peace process. April 2011: An Israeli school bus is hit by an anti-tank missile, injuring three people and narrowly missing some 40 children that had just disembarked. A young boy of 16, Daniel Viflic, dies from critical injuries to his head after fighting for his life for 10 days. A conditional ceasefire is declared between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). March 2011: Since the start of 2011, a staggering increase in rocket fire from Hamas is seen, terrorizing Israeli citizens in the Negev and surrounding areas. On March 23, a bomb explodes at the Jerusalem central bus station, killing one and injuring dozens more. December 2010: Israel and the PA, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, resume American-led indirect talks. Israel reiterates its position that construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is one of several core issues that the parties must agree on. November 2010: The Knesset (Israel's parliament) debate an American-backed proposal that exchanges security guarantees for a 3-month building freeze in the West Bank. The initiative gets stuck in the Knesset and the PA voices disapproval because the building freeze does not include East Jerusalem. October 2010: The Israeli 10-month construction freeze expires and the PA walks out of the peace talks – citing Israel's construction policies in the territories and East Jerusalem as the reason. 45 The Palestinian Information Center, “Abu Zuhri: We call on PA in Ramallah to halt meetings with Israel” January 2, 2012 http://www.palestine- w5xgU62aq%2fXXj7wBhAak5g0BcMEqE2Z%2fHF%2f9SOoLUI2LR68m2KMewRkqt5o1NQVMFfM1GsnE%2fUfJ13FF1 UOM%3d
  16. 16. 16 September 2010: Israel and Palestinians resume direct peace talks for the first time in nearly two years. Netanyahu and Abbas agree to meet every second week. 2009/2010: Israel undertakes series of actions to improve conditions on West Bank and help spur economic activity. These include opening highways, dismantling 60 security checkpoints, facilitating travel for Palestinian businessmen through security crossings and allowing Arab-Israeli civilians to visit the West Bank through all crossings along the security fence. 2009 marks the first year since the second intifada began in September 2000 that no suicide bombings were carried out. This is attributed to Israeli security measures as well as cooperation with the PA's security forces. November 2009: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced 10 month construction freeze in West Bank settlements. December 2008: Israel launches three-week “Operation Cast Lead” to suppress constant Hamas rocket fire against civilians in southern Israel. July 2006: Second Lebanon War erupts after Hezbollah kidnaps two Israeli soldiers across border. August 2005: In Gaza Disengagement, Israel unilaterally pulls all of its citizens out of the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank. This dramatic move costs Israel approximately $2 billion, and includes the evacuation of all of the roughly 9,000 Israelis living in the affected area. Hamas, armed and financed by Iran, takes control of Gaza and uses the territory to launch rockets against Israeli towns and villages. 2000-2004: Second Intifada marked by many suicide attacks against Israeli civilians and retaliatory actions. June 2003: The Quartet on the Middle East - comprised of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the EU - issue a “road map” for peace including the establishment of a Palestinian state. January 2001: At the Taba Conference, Israel offers even more of the West Bank: territory equivalent to 97 percent of the total land area requested by the Palestinians, including swaps from within pre-1967 Israel. Arafat again rejects the deal and a day later delivers accusing the Israeli government of a “barbarian and cruel war using fascist methods…” July 2000: At the Camp David Summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offers the Palestinians more than 90 percent of the West Bank, which would mean the uprooting of about 40,000 Israeli settlers. The deal would also include Palestinian control over the Christian and Muslim quarters of Jerusalem’s old city and other East Jerusalem neighborhoods, as well as religious sovereignty over the Temple Mount, considered Judaism’s holiest site and known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). Yasser Arafat turns down the deal. June 2000: Israel withdraws its forces from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, armed and financed by Iran and Syria, takes control of the region. 1998/99: The Wye and Sharm-el-Sheikh agreements of the late 1990s lead to further Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank. January 1997: In the Hebron Agreement, the Israeli military redeploys from 80 percent of Hebron.
  17. 17. 17 October 1994: Israel and Jordan sign a peace treaty and establish diplomatic relations. 1992/93: Secret talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials lead to Oslo Accords signed at a White House ceremony in September 1993. Israel recognizes the Palestine Liberation Organization and allows Yasser Arafat to return to the West Bank and establish a Palestinian Authority (PA). It also accepts the eventual goal of a Palestinian state. The PLO recognizes Israel’s right to exist and renounces terrorism. October 1991: The United States hosts the first Arab-Israeli peace conference in Madrid, followed by Israeli-Syrian, Israeli-Jordanian, Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Washington. 1987: The first Palestinian intifada launches six years of violence and civil unrest. June 1982: Israel occupies southern Lebanon to suppress PLO rocket fire and terrorist incursions. Over the next three years, Israeli troops withdraw to a narrow border zone. March 1979: Israel and Egypt sign a peace treaty. Israel fulfills its agreement by withdrawing all forces from the Sinai Peninsula, giving up access to valuable oil wells and evacuating towns and villages. November 1977: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat becomes the first Arab leader to make an official visit to Israel. 1974/75: Israel signs disengagement agreements with Egypt and Syria and withdraws from strategic territory it had occupied in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Trade into Gaza Israel has expanded and adjusted its civilian policy towards Gaza in recent months to meet the needs of Gaza’s people, according to Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Major General Eitan Dangot. Israel helped approve 121 civilian projects for the strip. They include 37 education projects, 14 healthcare missions, 4 new healthcare centers, 28 water and sewage initiatives (including 5 wastewater treatment plants), 8 housing projects that include 800 housing units, 13 agriculture projects (including 100 greenhouses), new roads and more. The World Bank and Germany, for example, are sponsoring large initiatives in northern Gaza including a new sewage system and environmental projects. Currently, 250 double-container trucks enter Gaza daily and by the second half of 2011, 400 trucks, both full trailer and double trailer, will have the capability to enter Gaza with goods. Israel is investing hundreds of thousands of shekels to allow for greater flexibility of these imports. Since the August 2005 disengagement from Gaza, the Israeli government has delivered 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid weekly through the Nahal Oz, Kerem Hashalom and Karni crossings. 46 In addition to Israel’s Ashdod port just north of Gaza, the Kerem Shalom crossing has become the major economic hub from which goods enter Gaza. Israel has had to respond to security threats and terrorist 46 “Behind the Headlines: The Israeli humanitarian lifeline to Gaza,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 25, 2010, 2010.htm
  18. 18. 18 attacks that target the border crossings. Yet, there has been greater movement of Gaza’s businessmen abroad and to Israel and the West Bank. About 800 businessmen traveled abroad for business in February 2011. Gaza is famous for its agricultural products. Israel, The World Bank, the PA and other organizations are working to increase the number and types of goods exported from Gaza. In January, 4106 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip and 111 truckloads of Gaza-grown strawberries and carnations passed through the Israeli crossings on their way to European markets. Israel transfers 50,000 tons of goods to Gaza every two weeks, exceeding the 40,000 Israel told Quartet on the Middle East Envoy Tony Blair that it would transfer. Israel has also built new platforms for grains, wheat, raw materials and other aggregates at the Kerem Shalom border-crossing despite the fact that it is a Hamas-target, Levy added. In addition to accelerating the flow of construction materials to Gaza, Israel received 1,500 applications from Gazans for healthcare in Israel since the start of 2011, representing a 63 percent increase from 2010. Eighty percent of the applicants were approved. 423 tons of medicine and medical supplies were shipped in Gaza, via 538 trucks, in 2010. The PA sets the priority of what goods Gaza needs and the list is sent to Israel daily. There are dozens of weekly meetings between PA and Israeli officials at Erez in order to improve the transfer of goods to Gaza. Israel has also upped Gazan exports to the West Bank and overseas. The goods include strawberries, tomatoes, flowers, peppers and a new focus on furniture and textiles. Farmers in Gaza, for example, have established relationships with Israeli agricultural associations. Israel also provides electricity and water to Gaza’s civilians. Thirty-seven educational facilities and new housing units, 14 health centers and 13 agricultural units are currently being developed in Gaza. Israel approves these projects despite Iran-backed Hamas’ targeting and exploitation of the Israeli-Gaza crossings. Hamas prevents Israel from delivering diesel fuel to Gaza and makes it difficult for Israel to deliver items to Gaza’s civilian population. Millions of tons of humanitarian aid have been transferred to Gaza since Operation Cast Lead, equaling over a ton of aid for every individual there. Supplies include food, first aid goods, heavy-duty diesel fuel and construction products.47 Despite often intense bombardment from Gaza, Israel has continued to provide Gaza with humanitarian aid and other supplies. In December of 2010, the Israeli government began to once more allow exports from Gaza, particularly strawberries and flowers for which Gaza is renowned. 48 In July 2010, Israel eased its blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza allowing in all goods other than those that can serve terrorist purposes. 49 47 “Increased humanitarian aid to Gaza after IDF operation,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 26, 2010, ration_Jan_2009 48 Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. "Gaza Land Crossing Activities." IDF Blog. December 23, 2010. (accessed January 3, 2011). 49 Laub, Karin, "Israel Eases Gaza Blockade Restrictions, Releasing List of Allowed Items," AP and The Huffington Post, July 5, 2010,
  19. 19. 19 From the end of Cast Lead in January 2009 until June 2010, Israel coordinated the transfer of 1,068,400 tons of aid, 139,118,433 liters of fuel and 52,580 tons of cooking gas into the Gaza Strip. 50 Rafah Crossing Opened by Egypt On May 28, 2011 the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was officially opened for pedestrians. About 400 Gazans were reported to have been waiting at the crossing. Currently, those who wish to cross into Egypt must first be vetted. There are calls to open the crossing for commercial goods as well as for residents, which raises fears of weapons being brought in to arm the Iranian backed terrorists under Hamas. There is also concern amongst Israeli officials that the opening of the crossing could lead to military training personnel crossing to instruct Hamas fighters. “One trainer who tells them how to set up rockets and how to use them is equal to a large quantity of weapons,” said Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defense ministry official. 51 The majority of rockets fired from Gaza fall in open areas. 50 “Behind the Headlines: The Israeli humanitarian lifeline to Gaza,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 25, 2010, May-2010.htm 51 “Egypt opens Rafah border with Gaza,” Al Jazeera, May 28, 2011,