Nov 19, 2012 | 20:47 GMT

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Assessing the Gaza Rocket Attacks

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Assessing the Gaza Rocket Attacks

By closely examining the timing and intensity of rocket fire on Israel from Gaza, some deductions can be made about the evolution of the conflict. A dramatic uptick occurred Nov. 14 around 8 p.m. when Palestinian militants responded to Israeli airstrikes with a large volume of rocket strikes and Fajr-5 rockets launched at Dimona. After that, launches out of Gaza stabilized and remained at a consistent level through Nov. 15. This relative decline was probably the result of Palestinian militants or their leaders attempting to evaluate the situation and determine how to proceed after Israel escalated its air campaign. In the following days, a steady pattern emerged. Rocket attacks have been concentrated in the daytime, with a slight decline around noon. Relatively little rocket fire has occurred at night, likely because fewer people are out in the streets of Gaza at that time. This deprives militants of any human terrain to blend into and makes it easier for Israeli intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to spot and target militants preparing to launch rockets. Sunset is another period that has seen a higher frequency of Fajr-5 rocket launches, which have a longer range and are capable of hitting Israeli population centers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These launches may be timed to coincide with rush hour in and around Tel Aviv, a period that offers militants an increased chance of inflicting civilian casualties and terrorizing the populace. During the past 24 hours, no Fajr-5s have been launched at Israel, which could mean either that Palestinian militants have run out of the rockets or that they are keeping the remaining ones in reserve. Only a few aberrations in this general pattern have been recorded, such as the concentration of rocket fire on Nov. 16 just before and after the visit of the Egyptian prime minister to Gaza and the lack of a spike in rocket launches before noon on Nov. 19. After noon on Nov. 19, the pattern again resumed and appears unlikely to shift dramatically unless a new political or military development occurs that changes the dynamics of the conflict.

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