Exclusive: The IDF’s Ability to Strike Rockets Before They’re Launched

An interview with a senior commander in the Gaza Division reveals how the IDF (Zahal) strikes down terrorists, in real time, as they attempt to launch rockets at Israel. “Without us, many more rockets would have been fired, endangering millions of Israelis.”

Throughout Operation Protective Edge, the IDF (Zahal) struck hundreds of terrorists who were caught firing rockets at Israel. Many of them were struck right before launching, others were targeted after the act. Nevertheless, the IDF (Zahal)’s real-time intelligence and pinpoint striking abilities made it very difficult for terrorists to fire rockets at Israel without being targeted.

“Without us, many more rockets would have been fired.”

The senior commander in the Gaza Division told us about his main objective- “to foil rocket launches before they occur. We do target retroactively, but most of our efforts are channeled towards preventing rockets from being fired,” said a senior commander in the Gaza Division.

“It’s like in James Bond movies, when he takes out the bad guy a minute before the end, and everything goes back to normal. That’s what it’s like here. The public doesn’t know what was going to happen, they only know what actually happened–what they saw.“

“We are constantly searching for terrorist squads, rocket launchers, and launching pits. Our abilities to detect rocket launching have increased immensely over the past few years. I can say with confidence that the number of rockets that were fired [throughout Operation Protective Edge] is significantly smaller than what it could have been.”

From Identification to Elimination

Multiple sources and methods are used in the process of identifying and destroying rocket launchers: around-the-clock intelligence work–including tracking terrorists, mapping hostile locations and monitoring movements–provides initial indications of upcoming rocket fire. Advanced technologies such as UAVs, reconnaissance balloons and other observation devices confirm the information and keep tracking the target until it is eliminated.Exclusive: The IDF’s Ability to Strike Rockets Before They’re Launched

“Our top priority is to verify that the suspect is actually a terrorist who wants to fire at Israel. That’s why we operate several methods in order to make sure that we are targeting an enemy. We always strive to confirm one hundred percent that the suspect isn’t a civilian. Yet, this does not mean that in the midst of the battle, mistakes may occur”

Hamas’ Strategy: Firing from Within Civilian Population

“Hamas fires mainly from within the civilian population and sensitive areas. Schools, mosques and medical facilities are often used to fire rockets at Israel,” explained the senior commander in the Gaza Division.

“They [Hamas] do it because they understand that we have the ability to detect and target them when they fire rockets, but when they fire from sensitive locations we are reluctant to do so. Hamas terrorists know we are humane, they know that we don’t want to harm civilians. So they put their own civilians in danger in order to kill ours.”

“We significantly defeated Hamas”

“The IDF (Zahal) won the operation,” said the senior commander. “We struck a significant blow to Hamas. We’ve made them understand that their desire to attack us isn’t worthwhile. That’s a huge accomplishment.”

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