A small community of Palestinian Arabs living in the rocket-battered southern Israel town of Sderot say Israel is making a major mistake by not immediately launching a full scale invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The 80 Palestinian families living in Sderot are all former residents of Gaza who during the years of Israeli control there aided Israeli security forces in tracking and eliminating Palestinian terrorists. They were branded traitors for helping Israel combat terror, and so were pulled out of the area by the Israeli army for their own protection.
Speaking to the British newspaper The Guardian this week, the relocated Palestinians said that as former insiders, they could confirm without question that the only way Israel is ever going to curb the Gaza rocket fire in any significant way is to launch a broad military incursion into the territory.
Some went even further and said that once the Israelis finished with the terrorists, they should stay put and reinstate what the international community called Israel's "occupation" of Gaza.
Said one of the Arabs: "When the Israelis ruled Gaza, people lived like kings."
Another said he was happy he helped Israel in the past and now has the opportunity to live a prosperous life in the Jewish state, while other Palestinians suffer an intolerable existence created by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Earlier in the week, Israel's security cabinet came to the decision to not launch a major military response to escalating Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza, and to instead continue to wait on Egypt to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers. That decision was made despite the fact that most of the members of Israel's cabinet had previously voiced opposition to a truce they believe will only allow Hamas to regroup and rearm for future violence.
Hamas and allied terror groups responded to what they clearly viewed as Israel's weakness by firing some 65 rockets and mortar shells at communities in southern Israel on Thursday. Miraculously, only one Israeli was wounded in the massive artillery barrage.
Speaking to Army Radio on Friday, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said the cabinet's ill-advised decision had created a ridiculous situation whereby Israel is seen as powerlessly pleading for calm as the terrorists pummel the Jewish state. It is Hamas that should be begging Israel for a ceasefire, insisted Mofaz.
While the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert maintained its refusal to launch a crushing response to the Gaza rocket fire, it did instruct the army to prepare for immediate action should the situation worsen any further.
The Olmert government has issued similar threats before only to fail to back them up with action, so few expect a green light to be given to the army regardless of how severe the rocket attacks become. But just in case, the United Kibbutz Movement on Thursday put in place a revamped emergency evacuation plan to remove the 5,000 Israelis that live in communities bordering the Gaza Strip should the army be sent in.
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