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Hamas rockets-retaliation
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Ira Sharkansky


The rockets of Hamas;

the retaliation of Israel,  September 25, 2005

By Ira Sharkansky
Is comic opera sad, or simply ridiculous?
Last evening we saw for the nth time the performance of Palestinian security personnel. This group was dressed in clean and pressed bright blue camouflage outfits. Some of them rappelled down a training wall. Others did summersaults in the air. An officer patted the hood of one of the nicely lined up powder blue, new patrol cars donated by one of the European countries. When the troops were not rappelling or doing flips they pranced from place to place, in almost perfect order, with arms swinging and knees high. On other occasions we have seen the trick of jumping through burning hoops. They really look good when they demonstrate how they drive fast, screech to a stop,  and jump out of all the doors of a car in coordinated fashion and take up a position against whatever is their target. Some personnel demonstrate their fury by biting off the heads of live chickens. Animal rights activists be alert. Palestine is not your paradise.
Armed groups are no less impressive. They, too march in uniform. They prefer black masks and green head bands. Some parade in white robes with suicide belts. Fighters strut with their weapons held high. Often they cannot resist the opportunity to fire in the air. Some of what seem to be rockets being carried are cardboard models. Others are the real thing.
Friday something happened to the rockets arranged in a truck that was part of a parade to celebrate Hamas' success in pushing Israel out of Gaza. The rockets exploded, killing 19 and injuring more than 120. Participants said they saw missiles fired from Israeli helicopters. Israel denied that charge. Palestinian officials accused Hamas of violating agreements not to parade with weapons, and not knowing how to care for its rockets. Hamas could not accept responsibility. One of its operatives held up a tiny, twisted bit of metal that he said was part of an Israeli device.
Friday night and Saturday Hamas and others fired more than 40 missiles toward the Israeli town of Sderot. Several of them managed to fly out of Gaza and actually reach Israel. Some of those landed in settled areas and injured civilians.
Weddings and engagement parties are also occasions for enthusiasm. The Jerusalem police have tried to ban the firing of weapons in the air. Fireworks are allowed, which we see from our apartment. We also hear small arms fire, and take care not to be on the balcony. A young boy was killed in the Galilee by a bullet fired as part of one party this weekend, and a girl was injured while watching a party in Lod. Someone ought to tout the use of blank cartridges. They may satisfy, even if they are not the real thing. 
Palestinian speeches are no less impressive than the ceremonies of the security forces and families. There are declarations without limit. Some proclaim the near accomplishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem. Others say that the Authority will impose its discipline on all Palestinians. One flag, one nation, one government. When pressed, spokesmen say that Palestinian forces have been weakened by Israel and cannot keep order. The 30,000 or so security personnel cannot seem to do more than parade and do summersaults in their neat uniforms.
Currently Israel is attacking Gaza from the air, assembling artillery for the first time since the intafada began five years ago, and rounding up Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in the West Bank. It will not take long for Europeans and others to accuse us of overreacting. Maybe a few more powder blue patrol cars donated to Palestinian security forces will solve the problem

Sharkansky is a member of the political science department at Hebrew University in Jerusalem