Sunday, April 30, 2006

IDF Resumes Gaza Shelling

Israel Defense Forces resumed artillery strikes on the Gaza Strip on Monday morning after Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket at Israel. No injuries were reported from the rocket.

Palestinian sources reported that seven people were injured from IDF artillery fire on Saturday, Israel Radio reported.

The IDF shelling on Qassam rocket launching sites in the Gaza Strip began Friday night and continued well into Saturday.

I was a drafted artillery gunner (155 mm, self-propelled) some twenty years ago and even back then, without GPS and digitised maps, long range shelling was remarkably accurate. We usually missed a couple of shots at the start of fire, during which a Forward Observer would correct the shelling. Today, with GPS and computerised targeting, these pieces practically aim themselves, with no need for Forward Observers or analogue topology. I've seen such American pieces in action during Nato manoeuvres in West Germany, with my own eyes. An American soldier told me: "they practically shell while we sleep".

This then begs the question: why are there so many Palestinian casualties? Are the IDF doing everything they can to avoid collateral damage, when deploying such a potentially deadly weapon?

Not according to this article in YnetNews:
A recent order given to IDF forces to fire shells closer to the homes of Gaza residents is illegal and should be rescinded, according to a High Court of Justice petition filed by six human rights groups Sunday.

"The order given to IDF forces to aim shells to a distances of only 100 meters (roughly 300 feet) from residents' homes harms the lives of civilians and places officers and soldiers at risk of committing war crimes," the petition charges.

Earlier, the minimal safety range for IDF shelling was 300 meters (about 900 feet) from residential homes. However, according to the human rights groups, recently a new order was given that reduces the safety range.

In recent months, the IDF has been bombing northern Gaza Strip sites in an effort to neutralize Qassam rocket fire.

Perhaps the inordinate rate of shelling further explains the civilian casualties: over 1,400 in one week were reported. To shell, say a mortar position (comparable to a Qassam position), we would normally have fired 1 or 2 so-called rounds (being 6 or 12 shells, 1 or 2 shells per piece with 6 pieces in a battery), then paused.

It seems to me the Israeli shelling is not in agreement with the principle of reasonable (measured) response. The Israelis have the right to defend themselves but with such a barrage going on, innocents invariably get injured or killed. Have any Qassam launch pads actually been hit?

The explosive force of a Palestinian Qassam rocket and an Israeli HE shell are probably comparable. But
Qassams are crude devices, and devoid of a guidance system some end up splashing down in the Mediterranean, most others simply miss without causing injury or damage. In contrast, medium-long range artillery fire should be highly accurate.

Do I think it's OK for Islamic Jihad (and possibly other groups) to continue to launch their firecrackers towards Israeli population centres? Of course not and neither do many Palestinians in the area concerned, who've been imploring to stop this futile madness. But an inordinate response by the IDF's artillery is unlikely to improve things. Their kill ratios may be a lot higher than Islamic Jihad's but that's about as "useful" as heavy bombardment gets...

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At 9:37 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

Breaking the will of the people, this is the main objectif of the Gaza shelling. This is also Sharon's doctrine, brutal terror !

I don't see that the will of the Palestinian people will break any time soon. They have been terrorized for more than a half century now.


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