Cold war haunting the Israel-Gaza conflict

Libyan GRAD Missile Launcher. Palestinians are using similar weapons against Israel

Libyan GRAD Missile Launcher. Palestinians are using similar weapons against Israel

 

What weapons are being used in the Israel-Gaza conflict http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28245343

Israel might be a cutting edge weapons producer, but the weapons which it’s enemies deploys against it are a blast (pun unintended) from the past. This short story from the BBC gives a good general overview of the Cold War era missiles being employed in the conflict.

 

Although the majority of these Soviet era weapons are designed to be fired in mass salvoes, like the GRAD and the Upgraded GRAD/WS-1E (NATO designation M1964) system or heavier self propelled mortar systems, they are still surprisingly rugged when fired individually. The article makes a key point and it is worth repeating here; these weapons are not particularly accurate. This method of employment is not what they were initially intended for. They were planned for mass bombardment of the traditional battlespace prior to mechanized/infantry advances. Like other Soviet legacy weapons systems (like the AK family of rifles), it is simple, yet effective. Components can be assembled in small garages/homes/caves with minimal equipment and can be transported through tunnels to Gaza and the West Bank where it is eventually launched. Although the Palestinian splinter forces have also started utilising longer ranged weapons such as the Farj-5 and the Khaibar-1, offering up to 160km range and bringing most of the country into bombardment range,  they are in the minority…for now.

 

In comparison to modern Israeli weapons and defences, it is ironically comparable to David-versus-Goliath.

 

A graphical explanation of IRON DOME and the missile threat. www.defenceforumindia.com

A graphical explanation of IRON DOME and the missile threat. http://www.defenceforumindia.com

 

The Israeli ‘Iron Dome’ weapons system is a theatre air defence system employed by the Israeli Defence Forces for the detection and interception of inbound hostile weapons (short range rockets, artillery shells and mortars) being directed against the state of Israel. Iron Dome claims a spectacularly high success rate, yet some of the figures are open to interpretation. For instance of the 200+ rockets which were fired against Israel since the start of the recent barrage, only between one-third and one-quarter had actually been intercepted. The IDF claims that they only intercepted rockets headed for built up areas; rockets deemed to be headed for uninhabited areas were allowed through. The interceptor battery system itself is an expensive operation; each Tamir interceptor missile costs between €35-50,000 (even an Upgraded GRAD costs less than $1500). The entire system’s pricetag runs into the billion dollar mark, largely picked up by the US government. Whether or not Israel could afford an independent system, is highly questionable, as is its ability to hit the target every time.

 

A Tamir interceptor missile being launched from an IRON DOME battery. Each Battery can theoretically defence up to 150km of residential area.

A Tamir interceptor missile being launched from an IRON DOME battery. Each Battery can theoretically defence up to 150km of residential area.

 

Realistically, the Iron Dome will be stretched to breaking point should the Palestinians decide to target an urban Israeli area with a co-ordinated and sustained barrage of projectiles. Iron Dome works best when employed against individual rockets. When (not if) the Palestinians go back to using the GRAD and its sister systems against Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa, in a conventional massed attack, then it is my belief that the flaws in the Israeli futuristic defensive strategy will be exposed by Cold War technology.

 

Criticism of the Iron Dome system 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-21751766

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About eamonntgardiner

I am a PhD Student at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I am conducting research into links between wartime traumatic-neurosis and evidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst British First World War veterans serving as Auxiliary Policemen in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish War 1919-1921. I have previously conducted research into local Irish Volunteer/Old IRA units in Munster as well as British responses to popular insurgencies in areas they administered. I have previously published a book on the British Counterinsurgency responses to the IV/IRA conflict in Ireland, 1919-1921, entitled 'Dublin Castle and the Anglo-Irish War: Counter Insurgency and Conflict.' I have also published papers on various aspects of that war and also on other insurgencies. I write a regular blog on those and other related matters, which can be read at https://eamonntgardiner.wordpress.com/ My research interests include Feminism and De-Colonialisation/Post-Colonialism, Insurgency, Police and Military Histories, Institutional Histories. Subaltern Studies, International History of the 20th Century, Modern Irish History, Historiography, History of Conflict, Peace Keeping/Enforcement/Protectorates, Spheres of Influence, Hegemonic Theories, Old and New Terrorism.
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