There is terror

… though it is not one-sided, but that will be elaborated in other posts, at other times.

Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel have been prevented in recent months, in fact in over a year. Qassam rockets are still being fired, still apparently mostly indiscriminately, by Palestinian militants from Gaza. Israelis going about their normal lives have been killed, as recently were some Israeli soldiers at a military training site near Gaza.

Condemnation and moral objections aside, these attacks are simply incomprehensible, even as expressions of objection and resistance to Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. [See “These Qassam attacks from Gaza are stupid and more” posted here.]

The most-read article in the Guardian newspaper’s website yesterday was: “Google Earth used to target Israel. Palestinian militants are using Google Earth to help plan their attacks on the Israeli military and other targets, the Guardian has learned”, which can be read in its entirety here.

While it has been assumed that the Palestinian militants were firing blindly — though perfecting their aim, as their technological prowess increased, with reports of the results of each strike — this report in the Guardian increases the psychological terror of the present situation, by suggesting that information freely available on the internet is helping to improve the planning of the attacks.

Another part of the terror created by this report in the Guardian newspaper yesterday is the confirmation that at least some of the rocket attacks are being conducted by militants somehow allied with Fatah — currently led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is presently conducting pre-peace negotiations with Israel.

The Guardian article says that: “Members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a group aligned with the Fatah political party, say they use the popular internet mapping tool to help determine their targets for rocket strikes. ‘We obtain the details from Google Earth and check them against our maps of the city centre and sensitive areas’, Khaled Jaabari, the group’s commander in Gaza who is known as Abu Walid, told the Guardian. Abu Walid showed the Guardian an aerial image of the Israeli town of Sderot on his computer to demonstrate how his group searches for targets … Bringing up archive footage of rocket launches on his computer, he said that the group had modified the homemade rockets to travel longer distances by cultivating salt from the sea. ‘It’s a secret process, but we’re very excited by the results’.”

A third troublesome aspect of this story is mentioned in the report: “The Guardian filmed an al-Aqsa test rocket launch, fired into an uninhabited area of the Negev desert, last month. Despite the crudeness of the weapons, many have landed in Sderot, killing around a dozen people in the last three years and wounding scores more”. A video clip showing this “test rocket launch” is posted with the Guardian story.

Even if the report was only a “test” — and even if the Palestinian militants were somehow 100% certain that they were firing “into an uninhabited area of the Negev desert”, it appears to be a significant breach of journalistic ethics to have acquiesed in, if not actually encouraged, any such “demonstration”. At the very least, it can never be excluded that someone will accidentally wander into the target zone during this “test”, and be injured or killed. This seems to goes well beyond the ethical bounds of journalistic reporting.

The Guardian further reported that Google Earth said that similar imagery is also available from other sources …

The result of these continued Qassam attacks is the announcement, also yesterday, that Ehud Barak’s Defense Ministry has adopted a plan of racheted Israeli retaliation — apparently primarily targetting Israeli provision of electricity and fuel — that will now be implemented in progressive stages against the already hard-hit and captive Palestinian population of Gaza.

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