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September 24, 2005
Hamas Blows Its Load, Israel Blows Its Top

Hamas learned yesterday and this morning that it plays a dangerous game with damgerous weapons. During a triumphal celebration of the end of the Israeli occupation in Gaza, a number of their homemade Katyusha rockets exploded, killing 15 and wounding 80 in the crowd, mostly children. Hamas and their partners, Islamic Jihad, also lobbed a few over the border into Israel, which caused Israel to mobilize its ground forces and promise a "crushing response".

First, the New York Times reported on the explosions at the Hamas rally:

A pickup truck carrying rockets exploded on Friday at a large Hamas rally as the group paraded its weapons through a densely packed refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. At least 15 people were killed and dozens were wounded, Palestinian medical officials said.

The powerful blast sent a plume of white smoke into the sky and unleashed pandemonium in the sprawling Jabaliya refugee camp, a Hamas stronghold just north of Gaza City. Body parts were scattered on the ground as ambulances rushed to the scene, and people in the crowd wailed in grief. The casualties included a number of children.

The blast appeared to be accidental, and the Palestinian Interior Ministry issued a statement that called on Hamas to "shoulder its responsibility" for the explosion.

Hamas shouldered the responsibility by claiming it uses duds for parades and that the Israelis must have fired on them from above to cause the explosion. Israel, which has no problem acknowledging such attacks, denied having had anything to do with the explosion. The homemade Katyushas have a notorious reputation for unreliability and instability, and taking them into a large crowd like the one seen in the AP photograph amounts to criminal stupidity.

Even more criminally stupid would be the continual launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel. The very event that Hamas celebrated -- the end of the occupation -- makes attacks against Israel an act of war, not a quasi-legal exercise of the so-called right to fight against occupation. Hamas and Islamic Jihad didn't take that into their calculations yesterday when they launched their missiles towards Sedarot, which all missed badly. IJ claimed responsibility for some as a retaliation for a raid on the West Bank town of Tulkarm, while Hamas insisted its attack answered the parade explosion that they claim was caused by an Israeli attack.

Israel promises a "crushing response," and they should. After pulling out all their troops and forcibly removing all Jewish settlers in Gaza, they no longer occupy that territory, taking away the radicals' last excuse for such attacks:

"We have to make it clear to the Palestinians that Israel will not let the recent events pass without a response," Mofaz said in a statement, referring to the Hamas rocket fire. "The response needs to be crushing." ...

Mofaz decided to deploy troops on Israel's border with Gaza after meeting his security chiefs, an official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting. Thousands of soldiers received call-up notices, and their leaves were canceled.

The Palestinians may soon learn about the flip side of self-determination. When given that opportunity and using it to make war, a non-occupied country could find itself in a war which would result in their complete destruction.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 24, 2005 6:00 AM

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