Since the latest conflagration began, Hamas and other Palestinian factions have fired about 2,319 rockets from Gaza. The Israeli military puts the number above 2,500. Yet they killed only two people: a Thai guest worker and a Palestinian Bedouin citizen of Israel. A third civilian casualty in Israel was killed while delivering food to soldiers as a volunteer by mortar fire, not a rocket.
The Israeli government continues to present the threat of rockets raining down on its civilians with forensic exuberance. Last week during a meeting in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu showed United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a “display of rockets that had landed on Israeli cities” and a “video of IDF soldiers uncovering rockets at an agricultural school in Gaza.”
Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor called the use of the rockets a “war crime.” The “unrelenting threat” of the rockets is “casting its dark shadow over the people of Israel,” he told the Security Council on July 18.
Israel’s alarmism is difficult to reconcile with other official Israeli statements that minimize the rocket threat. First, when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates air traffic, stopped U.S. commercial flights to Tel Aviv after rockets landed near the airport, Netanyahu grew incensed and suggested the move was the Obama administration’s tactic to pressure Israel to end the assault on Gaza.
Second, Israel says its Iron Dome missile defense system is effective at stopping incoming projectiles 86 percent of the time. However, its enthusiastic praise for the technological marvel of this system is not congruent with the depictions of the mortal threat of Hamas’ rockets. This claim of having an effective shield against rockets is even more difficult to square with the scale of Israel’s destruction in the Gaza Strip. It raises serious questions about the proportionality of Israel’s actions. It is another reason to object to the ongoing military onslaught that has so far left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead and another 5,000 injured — of whom an estimated 70 percent are civilians.