The title of this post is not exactly the title of the IDF press release that would’ve distributed to mark the launch of this new military unit. But the upshot of the new unit and weapons it will use is correctly described in the title. Here’s how Haaretz described it:
The Israel Defense Forces is setting up a battalion for launching rockets into populated areas. The battalion, part of the Artillery Corps, will carry out missions that so far only the Israel Air Force could execute, IDF sources told Haaretz.
…The battalion will first fire rockets with a range of 30 to 40 kilometers and will proceed to long-range rockets in the coming years, military sources said.
What this really means is that the IDF intends to give Hamas and Hezbollah a dose of their own medicine. Since they are striking terror into the hearts of Israeli civilians, the IDF intends to return the favor at the earliest opportunity. During hostilities or whenever it’s deemed opportune, the new artillery corps will lob Israeli munitions into civilian areas and let them know how it feels to be such a sitting duck target. Kill one, kill one hundred? So be it. The terrorists do it to us, now we’ll do it to them. So the Great Mandala turns.
Of course, there is a lot of blather about how the IDF will remove civilians before it hits a target. But does anyone in their right mind believe this is a) true or b) feasible?
The rocket, made by Israel Military Industries, is estimated to cost between NIS 100,000 and NIS 200,000. With a precision of up to 10 meters of its target, it is seen as highly accurate.
However, when a rocket is fired into a built-up, densely populated area, a 10-meter deflection can wreak destruction and kill uninvolved people, the sources said. For this reason the IDF intends to evacuate a targeted building before launching the rocket, in a bid to minimize damage. Then it will reevaluate the target to ascertain whether it contains terrorists or serves as a terror headquarters before firing the rocket, the sources said.
In the history of lame explanations offered by the IDF to justify its practices, this is a stunner. Do you know any army in the world that evacuates a building located in enemy territory, then ascertains whether bad guys are in it, and only then blows it to high heaven? Either the IDF truly is the most moral army in the world, or it’s full of crap. I’ll let you be the judge.
What’s the name of the new weapon that will be at the heart of this new military unit? Kidon Kasum (“magic javelin”), a name that can only be seen as (unintentionally) ironic, given that there would appear very to be very little “magical” about it, especially to the civilians it will maim and kill. I also wonder whether the word “Kasum” might be a deliberate sound-play on the word Qassam, which is the Palestinian rocket of choice for terrorizing Israeli civilians.
What the IDF does in situations like this is that it introduces the weapon and the new military unit with fanfare and trumpets the refined moral values under which it will be utilized. Then, when hostilities erupt and the weapon is used and it kills scores or hundreds of civilians because its level of accuracy is only within 30 feet (and its to be used in civilian zones), then Israel can point back to all the fine words it spoke when it inaugurated the project. The words won’t mean jack of course, but at least Israel can point to the fact that it said them. That, I suppose, is supposed to comfort the survivors of the victims.
There is an unintentionally (and mordantly) funny passage in this report:
Most Western armies today operate rockets to aid their ground forces. The IDF has refrained from doing so until now due to the rockets’ imprecision, with the exception of the Artillery Corps’ multiple launch rocket system, MLRS rockets – the corps’ cluster bombs.
I don’t know how the original Hebrew phrased this, but as translated the story makes it appear that the IDF is making an exception in its use of cluster bombs because they’re more precise than what’s currently available. Anyone with any knowledge of cluster bombs knows that they’re terribly imprecise and end up killing children for years after they’re fired on their targets.
Hardly a word in this report of the dubiousness of firing artillery into densely populated civilian areas. In fact, Israel regularly complains that such attacks by Arab militants are or should be war crimes. I’m willing to concede this if we also concede that such IDF targeting is also eligible for such designation.
UPDATE: Truthout has published, Israel’s Assassination of Gazan Leader Lays Groundwork for Iran Attack, on Bibi Netanyahu’s deliberate exploitation of a Gaza assassination in order to test the Iron Dome anti missile system, and in turn prepare the Israeli public for likely war with Iran.