Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Proportionate Response

Israel claims 3,360 rockets were fired from Gaza between 8 July and 6 August. It is well known that the rockets have caused minimal damage and casualties.

 Hazem Abu Murad, the head of Gaza’s bomb squad, estimated that Israel had dropped between eighteen to twenty thousand tons of explosives on Gaza since 7 July. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was the equivalent of thirteen thousand tons of high-explosive TNT. Abu Murad, who died along with five other people on 13 August, estimated that about one thousand tons of unexploded munitions remained.

There are more than 1,900 people killed in the ongoing Israeli assault. In Khuzaa and al-Qarara in the southeastern Gaza Strip, the UN counted 2,493 destroyed structures, 1,243 severely damaged structures and 2,014 impact craters.

The Israeli military itself states that between 8 July and 5 August, “aerial, naval and ground forces struck 4,762 terror sites across the Gaza Strip.”  This number includes thousands of civilian homes, mosques, businesses and other civilian objects and infrastructure.

On 14 August, Haaretz published the following information, sourced to a “senior official of the general staff” of the Israeli army. According to the army’s figures, 39,000 tank shells, 34,000 artillery shells, and 4.8 million bullets were supplied during the fighting. Senior military figures estimate that land forces alone used at least 60 percent of the 5,000 tons of ammunition given to them, but the Israeli army cannot yet evaluate it accurately. If, as reported, 60 percent of the stores were used, that would mean 23,400 tank shells, 20,400 artillery shells and 2.9 million bullets.

The website Israel Defense, citing military sources, stated the Israeli army fired “not fewer than 40,000 155 mm artillery shells” into Gaza. The expected lethal radius for a 155 mm high explosive projectile is reportedly between 50 and 150 meters and the expected casualty radius is between 100 and 300 meters. IDF officials have said that the error radius for a 155 mm shell is usually 25 meters. Therefore, if shells are lobbed as close as 100 meters to populated areas, as allowed under an IDF policy … Or even closer, as sometimes happened, it greatly increases the likelihood of civilian casualties. Shells exploding can spread about 2,000 fragments in all directions. 155 mm shells are generally shot toward an area 50 by 50 meters; hitting anywhere within this area is considered by professionals hitting the target. In densely constructed areas like the Gaza Strip, such an area could include more than five buildings.

A 15 August article in Haaretz by Gili Gohen, explains “The IDF employed an exceptional amount of firepower during combat in the Gaza Strip, including in densely built areas. According to partial data provided by the army on 29 July, after three weeks of combat (of which 12 days were in the course of ground operation) approximately 30,000 shells had been shot by that time. The ground operation continued for more than one additional week, so we can estimate that the final number of shells shot is significantly higher. By comparison, during the 2009 Cast Lead operation, the IDF shot about 8,000 artillery shells. Of that number, some half (4,000) were smoke shells. About one thousand shells were illuminating shells and the remainder, some 3,000, were explosive shells.”

On 20 July alone, some 600 explosive artillery shells were shot within one hour into the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya.

It can be expected that many of the estimated 23,400 tank shells fired at Gaza are also responsible for large numbers of civilian deaths, injuries and destruction even where Israel claims it was not specifically targeting homes, schools, hospitals and mosques. The Israeli army use Kalanit and Hatzav type tank shells. The Kalanit, manufactured by Israel Military Industries, “can explode in midair over terrorists hiding behind cover or alternatively breach concrete walls and explode inside buildings,” The Jerusalem Post reported in 2011. For “terrorists” one can, of course, simply substitute the word “humans,” and for “cover” one can substitute words like “house,” “school,” or “mosque.” One of the features of the Kalanit tank shell is precisely that it kills people over a very wide area. The Hatzav penetrates the target, such as a building, to explode inside.

Israel uses a broad range of air-dropped munitions.  The one-ton MK84 bombs that have a destructive radius of 300 meters. On 10 July, the fourth day of Israel’s current assault on Gaza, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing a “senior military source”: Around 800 tons of explosives have been fired by air force jets on targets this week, the source said.

Full article here

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