The Kassam rocket fire on Sderot offers a twofold lesson about Gush Katif. If Sderot is indefensible against the rocket fire, Gush Katif was even more so. PIJ launches missiles on Sderot over the heads of the IDF troops who guard the Israeli border with Gaza. PIJ and other guerrillas could have shelled Gush Katif, which is located in the midst of the Arabs, much more easily. Sharon correctly reasoned that Israel couldn’t guard the Gazans forever and decided to evacuate Gush Katif. The problem of defending Gush Katif was solved, but the conflict followed the evacuating Jews and zeroed in on Sderot.

Gush Katif was evacuated because it was encircled. But in wars, breaking out of encirclement is a tactical maneuver followed by strategic offense. More soldiers are killed during retreat than in sensible offense. Hamas continued to pound retreating Israelis with rockets.

Gush Katif was indeed indefensible, but so is Sderot. Tel Aviv is indefensible against mid-range Syrian missiles, and would fall within the range of Kassam rockets if Palestinian state were to be created in the Road Map borders. Passive defense has never worked. The Romans stormed a walled Jerusalem, and Arabs attack Israel, which is walled by the separation barrier. The Western world imagines that borders are inviolable, but Palestinian guerrillas have no respect for Israeli borders and shell the Jewish nation retreating from Gush Katif.

Ashkelon, Sderot, and Gush Katif can be defended. Any land Israel chooses to take from the Arabs is defensible—by normal methods, which are common in military practice. Are we at war with the Arabs? Even a Tel Aviv court recently recognized that when sentencing Israeli Arab terrorist Ashraf Keisi for “abetting an enemy during a war.” The problem of Kassam fire can be solved by creating a no-man’s land sufficiently wide that Palestinian rockets cannot cross it. If the rockets’ range increases, so will the no-pass zone—until the Palestinians find themselves in Egypt. Israel knows hundreds of buildings used by Hamas, PIJ, Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, Dughmushes, and scores of other guerrillas. There are plenty of good targets for the defense of Sderot.

Jews are not encircled, but strategically placed for attack. As an American saying goes, there is no encirclement, but there are times when you can shoot in any direction.