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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Myths Debunked about Hamas Rockets

Things you should know about rockets from Gaza:

  • They are homemade. No, really. They cost about $800 to make, which makes them incredibly primitive. They do not use any advanced technology and cannot be guided, directed, or controlled. They are largely ineffective and have a very limited range (up to a maximum of 20 km/12.4 mi). See this video from Current TV for a demonstration of how they are made.
  • In the past 9 years, about 6,000 homemade Qassam rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel by various groups. Of those, over 90% landed in uninhabited areas, causing no injuries or damage. Seriously. Did I mention these things are really ineffective?
  • Israel’s missile/rocket defense system, called the Iron Dome, is set up to intercept rockets/missiles fired into Israel, primarily from Gaza and Lebanon. They don’t stop every projectile that crosses the border—only those that, according to trajectory models calculated by sophisticated computer programs using data from radar, are likely to land in populated areas (or, more specifically, militarily significant areas). If a rocket is projected to land in a populated area, a $40,000, highly sophisticated guided-missile is launched to intercept and destroy said $800 Qassam rocket. If the rocket is projected to land in an uninhabited area, the system does not respond and the rocket completes it path, landing in the middle of nowhere and hurting no one. This means that very few rockets from Gaza ever land in civilian populated areas, and thus rarely cause any lasting damage. (Source)
  • Qassam rockets fired from Gaza have resulted in fewer than 25 deaths in the last 9 years, including the most recent rocket attacks. (Note: Qassams do not account for all deaths on the Israeli side. Over the last nine years, another 20-25 were killed by mortar fire, and 2 were killed by anti-tank missiles. See B’Tselem for more). For comparison, the IDF killed nearly 1,400 Palestinians in less than one month during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009. More than half of the dead were deemed to have taken no part in the conflict. Another 5,300 Palestinians were wounded in these attacks. More than 3,500 residential dwellings were destroyed and more than 20,000 people were left homeless. And all of this was done over the span of a single month. (For more, read this).
  • Groups in Gaza that rely on Qassam rockets do so because they are the only available options. They do not have access to $40,000 guided missiles like the IDF. They use crudely made, ineffective, and unreliable homemade rockets because that is simply all they have access to.
  • The fact that Hamas has killed fewer Israelis than the IDF has killed Palestinians does not reflect a moral superiority on the part of Hamas. If they had more effective and deadly weapons, they would use them. The death toll difference is more a reflection of the grave disparity in resources and technology, not a difference of morality. That being said, nothing can justify Israel’s clearly disproportionate response. No matter how you look at it, the IDF is still clearly in violation of both the Geneva Conventions and Just War Theory. They are recklessly targeting civilian populated areas and, as a result, killing civilians. They are relying on extra-judicial executions. They are using unnecessary and disproportionate force. And they are attacking an occupied population. What the IDF is doing could very easily be argued to amount to genocide.