Hitting harder 28

Hamas has been raining rockets on southern Israel; 800 between January and October this year, 160 since last Saturday.

Today, Wednesday, Israel hit back at several targets including weapon stores, and made a perfect surgical strike on a moving car carrying the military head of Hamas.

This report comes from The Times of Israel:

The Israeli Air Force on Wednesday launched a series of airstrikes in Gaza City, killing Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’s armed wing — the equivalent of an army’s chief of staff — and his son, Mohammed al-Homs. Palestinian sources put the death toll at up to nine by evening.

Following the airstrikes, Palestinians launched some 17 rockets at Beersheba, two rockets at the coastal city of Ashkelon, and two more at the Eshkol region. Some of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Residents within range of rocket fire from Gaza were requested to remain within 15 seconds of a shelter. School was called off for Thursday throughout the south, including in Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon. The police raised alert levels amid fears of terror attacks.

The army confirmed the airstrike on Jabari and said that it had launched a “widespread campaign on terror sites and operatives in the Gaza Strip, chief among them Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets.” The IDF Spokesperson’s Office told The Times of Israel that the campaign was being referred to as “Operation Pillar of Defense”. [“Pillar of Cloud” according to other sources, and more likely – JB.]

“By nature of his position, Jabari has been responsible over the past decade for all anti-Israel terror activity emanating from the [Gaza] Strip,” the Shin Bet security agency said in a statement. … [He] was identified by “precise intelligence” gathered over several months. …

Witnesses said Jabari was traveling in a vehicle in Gaza City when the car was blown up. Crowds of people and security personnel rushed to the scene of the strike, trying to put out the fire that had engulfed the car and left it a charred shell.

Hamas police said other airstrikes hit targets in Gaza City, Khan Younis, Beit Lahiya and Rafah. Raed Atar, the head of Hamas’s Rafah Battalion, was reportedly targeted in one of those strikes. Hamas denied reports that Atar and Marwan Issa, another leading figure in the al-Qassam Brigades, had been killed. …

IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai confirmed that the strike was “part of our goal, to land serious blows on Hamas and other organizations. Jabari is the first target… We’ve only just started, and this isn’t the end of it. All of the options are open, and we will persist in our determination to continue to hit all of the [terror] organizations further down the line.”

Mordechai said that the IDF was prepping its ground troops for a possible incursion into the Gaza Strip, but noted that such an operation was not necessarily going to happen, and that the IDF didn’t want to turn Operation Pillar of Defense into a second Cast Lead — the winter 2008-9 assault on Hamas in Gaza that did include extensive ground operations.

Shortly after Mordechai’s announcement, the IDF issued a call-up for reservists in the Home Front Command unit.

Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovich of the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said that up to 20 terror sites in the Gaza Strip had been targeted. Hamas security officials said Hamas training facilities were among the targets in the Wednesday afternoon bombings. ,,,

Jabari was credited with being one of the leaders of Hamas’s violent putsch to take control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, and masterminded the professionalization of the organization’s military.

Israel attempted to kill Jabari in an airstrike in 2004, but ended up killing his eldest son, his brother, and several cousins instead.

Jabari was the most senior Hamas official to be killed since Operation Cast Lead four years ago. Jabari has long topped Israel’s most-wanted list and was notorious in Israel, which blamed him for a string of attacks, including the terror infiltration which saw the capture of soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. …

A capture now avenged.

And Israel may have gained a respite from the constant rocket attacks.

Targeted killings of senior terror leaders had in the past brought about extended periods of calm along the Gaza border.

 Syria’s civil war has been spilling over Israel’s border on the Golan Heights.

Israel has only the strength of its own right arm to depend on for survival in a hostile region and a mostly hostile world. The political support of US governments came to an end with the election of  Islam-loving President Obama.

All the while, Iran gets nearer and nearer to becoming the nuclear-armed power whose leaders have promised to obliterate Israel.

That small democratic country must hit harder than it is hit, and preferably first.