Attrition: Loud And Generally Not Fatal

Archives

September 6, 2011: In late August, Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza fired nearly 200 rockets and mortar rounds into south Israel. What was unusual about this was the large number of factory made 122mm rockets used (against more distant, heavily populated areas.) This resulted in higher than usual casualties, including three deaths. But, as is often the case, most (two out of three) of those deaths were not a direct result of the rockets. Two of the victims died while rushing for a bomb shelter. Both were elderly, tripped and fell, and suffered fatal injuries. The third victim suffered fatal wounds from a rocket. Heart attacks and strokes induced by rocket and mortar attacks are also counted.

The Palestinian rocket attacks had been around for a decade now, but got much worse once Israel pulled out of Gaza in August of 2005. This was a peace gesture that backfired. From 2001 to 2005, about 700 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Since the 2005 withdrawal, over 3,400 more rockets were fired into Israel. The rate of firings increased after Hamas took control of Gaza in June, 2007.

Hamas has been bringing in more factory made Iranian and Chinese made BM-21 and BM-12 rockets. Israeli intelligence officials believe Hamas currently has in Gaza hundreds of factory-made BM-21 rockets, each with a range of 20-40 kilometers. They also have some shorter range (six kilometers), Russian designed B-12 rockets. These are not smuggled in much, because the locally made Kassam II has about the same range. However, the B-12 is more reliable (more reliable trajectory and fuze, so more are likely to land where aimed and explode.)

The B-12 is a 107mm, 19 kg (42 pound), 84 cm (33 inch) long rocket that is very popular with terrorists. This rocket has a range of about six kilometers and 1.35 kg (three pounds) of explosives in its warhead. Normally fired from a launcher, in salvoes of dozens at a time, when used individually, it is more accurate the closer it is to the target. This 107mm design has been copied by many nations, and is very popular with guerillas and terrorists because of its small size and portability. There is a Chinese BM-12 variant which has a smaller warhead and larger rocket motor. This version is supposed to have a range of about 12 kilometers.

The 122mm BM-21s weigh 68.2 kg (150 pounds) and are 2.9 meters (nine feet) long. These have 20.5 kg (45 pound) warheads, but not much better accuracy than the 107mm model. However, these larger rockets have a maximum range of 20 kilometers. Again, because they are unguided, they are only effective if fired in salvos, or at large targets (like cities, or large military bases or industrial complexes.) There are Egyptian and Chinese variants that have smaller warheads and larger rocket motors, giving them a range of about 40 kilometers.

The rocket attacks from Gaza have been remarkably ineffective, killing only 44 people (half from rockets, the rest by mortars) in ten years. Hamas has had to fire nearly a hundred rockets or mortar shells for each Israel soldier or civilian they have killed. Israeli counterfire killed or wounded a Palestinian for every three Palestinian rockets or mortar shells fired. Israeli fire was much more accurate, with most of the Palestinian casualties being terrorists or others involved in building or firing the rockets and mortars. Hamas has tried to get civilians killed, by storing rockets in residential areas, and firing them from those neighborhoods as well. Although Hamas believes in the concept of "involuntary martyrdom" (getting civilians killed for the cause, even if the victims are not willing), many of its chosen candidates are not eager to die. So civilians stay away from areas where the rockets are launched, and try to conceal the fact that rockets are hidden under their homes.

Meanwhile, up north in Lebanon, Hezbollah have stockpiled over 40,000 factory-made rockets, mainly BM-21s brought in from Iran via Syria. This is three times as many rockets as they had in the Summer of 2006, when over 4,000 rockets were fired into northern Israel, killing about fifty people, most of them civilians. Another 1,500 were wounded and 2,700 suffered from serious stress and anxiety. This was the same casualty pattern experienced in the south.  Over a thousand Lebanese died from Israeli counterattacks. Hezbollah and Hamas plan to launch a joint rocket attack on Israel eventually. The Israelis have been planning more effective countermeasures, which they have not been discussing openly. 

Meanwhile, the only known weapon that can stop the short range rockets is the new Israeli Iron Dome and the older American Centurion, a U.S. Navy Phalanx autocannon designed to knock down anti-ship missiles. Centurion has been successful in shooting down mortar shells and short range rockets in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Israel has not bought any yet.

 


Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close