Why Rockets of Gaza Went Quiet — and Lessons Israel Can Learn

Maybe Sworn Enemies Can Live in Peace After All

Back to Normal: Father and daughter duck raindrops, not rockets, in entrance to bomb shelter in Sderot, southern Israel.
getty images
Back to Normal: Father and daughter duck raindrops, not rockets, in entrance to bomb shelter in Sderot, southern Israel.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published November 19, 2013, issue of November 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

November 14 marked the first anniversary of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel’s eight-day assault on Gaza with the declared aim of ending rocket fire on Israeli towns.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked the occasion on November 12 with a visit to the desert headquarters of the Israel Defense Force’s Gaza Division and a speech to the troops. What he had to say will surprise you: The operation reduced rocket and mortar fire by 98%. “There is no doubt,” Netanyahu said, according to news reports, “that significant deterrence has been achieved.”

The provocation was substantial. A total of 1,035 rockets and mortar shells had been fired at Israel from Gaza by Hamas and other Islamist groups in the 10.5 months preceding the Israeli assault, January 1 through November 13, 2012.

Israel’s deterrent was in kind: eight days of heavy bombardment, hitting some 1,500 sites ranging from ammunition dumps and rocket launchers to government offices and apartment buildings. An estimated 175 Palestinians dead, of whom either 57 (by Israeli count) or 102 (by Palestinian count) were civilians. The cost to Israel: six dead, including four civilians killed by rocket fire.

The result: a full year afterward, from November 2012 to November 2013, in which Israel was targeted from Gaza by a grand total of 35 rockets.

For all practical purposes, Israel has eliminated the Gaza rocket problem. Hamas has not only stopped firing rockets — it’s aggressively sent its police after the jihadi radicals who want to keep up the barrage. Life in Israel’s southern towns and communities has largely returned to normal, at least for now.

How did Israel do it? On the surface, the solution looks simple. Punish them when they cross the line. Make the price of attacking Israel too high even to consider. Create deterrence, as Netanyahu describes it.

Indeed, that’s a big part of it. But it’s more complicated than that. Hamas had to be shown the benefits of compliance as well as the price of disturbance. Under the November 2012 Egyptian-brokered cease-fire that ended Pillar, Israel agreed to a significant easing of its economic blockade on Gaza. The number of trucks allowed to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing was increased and the crossing’s hours of operation were extended.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.