Some well-meaning folk – one assumes they are well-meaning, but one should never under-estimate the ramifications of the Zionist “hasbara” black propaganda machine – are calling on “both sides” in the Gaza conflict to lay down their arms. HAMAS, they say, should stop firing rockets into Israel, and the Israelis should stop killing so many people in Gaza.
But this is a false equivalence.For a start, the HAMAS rockets are a response to Israeli air attacks, not vice versa. And as this New York Times story reveals, the rockets are no real threat to Israeli security.
According to the Times, HAMAS rockets “are smuggled via ship and tunnel from Iran, Libya, Sudan and Syria and, increasingly, manufactured from water pipes and household items in what a senior Israeli intelligence officer called Gaza’s ‘high-tech’ sector — about 70 makeshift factories staffed by 250 men and overseen by a few dozen engineers and chemists”.
“Rocket production is one of the prosperous sectors of the Gaza Strip — there is a very organized array of research and development and production,” said the senior intelligence officer. “Technologically, we are speaking about very simple rockets. They are not accurate at all. They make them by using very simple raw materials, mostly.”
Materials like 6-, 9-, 10- and 12-inch water pipes. Filled with propellant mixed from fertilizer, oxidizer, ammonia perchlorate, aluminum powder and other ingredients. Capped by warheads shaped by ironworkers. Under the tutelage, in some cases, of moonlighting chemistry or physics professors. Instructions are also available on the Internet.
“You need to be an engineer, but it’s not too difficult to learn it,” said another military official. “After you have the basic design, after you have the specific plan, you can do it. You don’t need a huge factory to do it. You can do it in a garage, you can do it under a mosque.”
Israeli Habara say HAMAS is deliberately siting its launch sites in non-military areas, using civilians as human shields. But the very nature of the Israeli attacks mean that there can be no military bases for the HAMAS fighters. As in Vietnam during the US war, its very nature means that the whole community has been forced by the attackers into being part of the infrastructure of resistance. A rocket can be fired from a shed or a hole dug in a garden, which is closed or filled in immediately after firing.
Although the rocket technology and range has improved since the crude Qassam rockets were first fired during 2001, they are still very inaccurate. The threat they pose can be gauged from the casualty figures on both sides.
In comparison with this crude weaponry, the Zionist IDF has probably the most sophisticated fire-power in the world. Much is sourced from the United States, including the F-151 and F-161 attack aircraft, the AH-64D Apache Longbow, AH-64 Apache, and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, the MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missile, the CBU-58 cluster bomb, the Mk-20 Rockeye cluster bomb, the Mark 84 bomb, the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, the Joint Direct Attack Munition guided bomb, the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile, the AGM-45 Shrike air-to-surface anti-radiation missile, the AGM-78 Standard ARM air-to-surface anti-radiation missile, the AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface anti-tank missile, the AGM-62 Walleye glide bomb, the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile, the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, the AIM-9 Sidewinder heat seeking air-to-air missile, the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile, and the MIM-72 Chaparral surface-to-air missile.
It also has 350 Centurion tanks of UK origin, held in reserve. (Full details of Israeli weaponry, necessarily not 100 per cent up to date, can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_equipment_of_Israel#Weaponry.)
Not all the above weaponry is deployed against Gaza; it is held in reserve for any future Middle East conflict with neighbouring states. For instance, the Jericho II and III nuclear missiles designed to be launched from the German-manufactured Dolphin-class submarines, among the most sophisticated and capable conventionally powered submarines in the world. Each Dolphin-class submarine is capable of carrying a combined total of up to 16 torpedoes and cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 km (930 miles) and may be equipped with conventional warheads or a 200-kilogram (440 lb) nuclear warhead containing up to 6 kilograms (13 lb) of plutonium.
Israeli forces have been charged in the past with firing white phosphorus into Gaza, and also cluster, or flechette bombs, which cause massive trauma in their victims.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has recorded numerous occasions when the Israeli army has fired flechette shells, both in Lebanon and Gaza. The shell releases thousands of tiny metal darts that cause horrible injuries to anyone out in the open.
A Reuters cameraman, Fadel Shana, filmed the firing of such a shell from an Israeli tank in Gaza moments before its flechettes killed him.
According to The Guardian, “The Israeli military is using flechette shells, which spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts, in its military operation in Gaza.
“Six flechette shells were fired towards the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, on 17 July, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Nahla Khalil Najjar, 37, suffered injuries to her chest, it said. PCHR provided a picture of flechettes taken by a fieldworker last week.
“The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) did not deny using the shells in the conflict. ‘As a rule, the IDF only employs weapons that have been determined lawful under international law, and in a manner which fully conforms with the laws of armed conflict,’ a spokesperson said in response to a request for specific comment on the deployment of flechettes.
B”‘Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, describes a flechette shell as ‘an anti-personnel weapon that is generally fired from a tank. The shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of metal darts 37.5mm in length, which disperse in a conical arch 300 metres long and about 90 metres wide’.
“The munitions are not prohibited under international humanitarian law, but according to B’Tselem, ‘other rules of humanitarian law render their use in the Gaza Strip illegal’. ”