Khan Yunis’ governor has replaced the windows in his office twice in the past week. Those who promised that if the children in the southern Israeli town of Sderot won’t be able to sleep at night, the same would be true for Gaza’s children, got their wish. Since the beginning of the week, every two hours almost, during daylight, an F-16 flies through the Gaza sky, leaving behind it a sonic boom, destruction, and anxiety. Every night, in order to disturb the residents’ sleep, the airplanes appear twice. For the Air Force, those sonic booms are a true operation. The Strip is short after all, it takes seconds to fly over it, and the boom must appear in the right place. Every time the planes fly a little lower, to enhance the effect.
On Tuesday, IDF commanders in Gaza told Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that the Palestinians cannot recall such an aerial assault. Mofaz rejected out of hand the possibility of easing the pressure. On the contrary, he wouldn’t mind seeing more pressure. The way he sees it, we haven’t yet reached the peak. In recent days, every 12 hours, an artillery battery fires at the partition between residential Palestinian areas in Beit Hanoun and the Israeli border. In principle, it’s an agriculture area, but as long as Kassam rockets are fired from there, nobody will be walking around there.
However, the artillery is merely dessert. The “big show” belongs to the Air Force for which the Strip has turned into a test ground for combat doctrines dealing with aerial control over urban areas. Aircraft maintain a continuous presence over the area, prepared for strikes within seconds of identifying the targets. A large number of the Kassams fired at Israeli targets were photographed by special intelligence systems. The weapon systems required to destroy the Kassams were not always available, but the Air Force is learning, and improving. The objective is to create an “effective ceiling of intelligence and fire” above the Gaza Strip.