WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
MAY 15, 2008 – BICOM (UK) -On 14 May 2008, a 122mm Grad-Katyusha rocket hit a shopping mall in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. The rocket struck at one of the mall’s top floors, where a medical centre is located, and caused the building’s ceiling to collapse. From the explosion and the subsequent damage, some 34 people were physically injured, four seriously. Two of the severely hurt are a 24-year-old woman and her two-year-old daughter, who were diagnosed with serious head injuries.
Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees, terror organisations operating in the Gaza Strip under Hamas rule, have all claimed responsibility for the attack.
BICOM ANALYSIS: THE LATEST ROCKET ATTACKS AND ISRAEL’S OPTIONS
– No major attack such as the one carried out on Ashkelon would have taken place without at least the consent of Hamas rulers. These attacks coincide with and support the strategic agenda laid down by the Hamas leadership. It is unclear how deliberate the escalation of the Ashkelon attack was, as by nature there is ‘luck’ involved in rockets striking large-scale targets. At the same time, it is clear that there is no lack of intent involved.
– Israel has a number of options to choose from in responding to the recent escalation in attacks. It would prefer not to undertake a large-scale ground invasion, favouring instead a continuation of limited but intense measures including highly effective targeted assassinations. However, if the situation escalates to an increasingly intolerable level, Israel may be compelled to undertake a large-scale invasion after President Bush’s departure. The severity of this situation is reflected in the fact that Israel may need to do this even though an exit strategy does not exist at present. Significantly, there is a difference in tone now amongst Israeli decision-makers, indicating that while undesirable, all options are now on the table.
– The preferred option currently appears to be a diplomatic one – specifically a viable ceasefire – but achieving this is a complicated matter in which both sides’ conditions are high and potentially intractable, whether by design or intent. Regardless, Israel has and is still pursuing the diplomatic route and does not want to pursue a military strategy until all diplomatic options have been exhausted. At the same time it reluctantly accepts that it may have to pursue a military option.
For BICOMs complete analysis of the situation go to: