Hizballah's Rocket Campaign Against Northern Israel: A Preliminary Report

[Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs] Uzi Rubin (with 14 photos and map) - From July 13 to August 13, the Israel Police reported 4,228 rocket impacts inside Israel from rockets fired by Hizballah. No geographical area in the world has sustained such a large quantity of rocket strikes since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980s. Most rockets fired by Hizballah at Israel were taken from the Syrian arsenal rather than from Iran. On most occasions, the rocket warhead contained anti-personnel munitions, a mixture of explosives and steel balls or fragments that were lethal to all those caught outside. One-fourth of the rockets that landed within Israel landed within built-up areas. During the first two weeks, rocket attacks averaged about 100 per day. Then in early August, Hizballah proceeded to double its rate of fire to a daily average of 200 rocket attacks. There was a decline during the final week, but on August 13, the day before the cease-fire, 250 rockets landed in Israel. Israeli counterattacks apparently had no serious influence on Hizballah's rate of fire, but had an effect on the accuracy and geography of the attacks. Israel's losses and damage from Hizballah rocket attacks include 53 fatalities, 250 severely wounded, and 2,000 lightly wounded. There was extensive damage to hundreds of dwellings, several public utilities, and dozens of industrial plants. One million Israelis lived near or in shelters or security rooms, with some 250,000 civilians evacuating the north and relocating to other areas of the country. Early Warning sirens provided timely alarms, saving innumerable lives. Israel's long-standing policy of constructing public shelters, combined with building codes that require reinforced spaces in private dwellings, proved to be generally effective as a system of passive defense against most of the rockets fired by Hizballah. Nearly 80 percent of fatalities involved persons caught in the open. Rockets and rocket launchers emerged as one of the defining weapons of the second Lebanon War and will remain so in the foreseeable future. This impacts on the security of U.S. and Western interests in the Middle East. Effective response measures must be devised and deployed as soon as possible. Two objectives should be pursued: first, to reduce the "Flash to Bang" (Hizballah rocket launch to Israeli response) cycle time to a few seconds from the time of launcher location pinpointing; and second, to develop and deploy effective and affordable active defense against rockets to protect vital civilian and military installations. Uzi Rubin oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense system.

2006-08-31 01:00:00

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