Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Dick Tracy, Call Your Office

I just saw this at Britain's The Register:
Israel last week revealed that ground troops now sport wrist-borne LCD screens which enable real-time identification and elimination of targets. The Tadiran system - code-named "V-Rambo" - beams images of the enemy from unmanned drone aircraft direct to the men in the field, shortening the time it takes to identify and strike a target from around 10-12 minutes to a matter of seconds, AP reports.

Previous systems involved transmitting pictures to a central command point which then disseminated the information to the appropriate forces. The new Tadiran set-up is similar to that used for about a year in Israeli attack helicopters to kill Palestinian militants. Such "targetted killings" were stoped as part of the cease-fire declared last month by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but following another Palestinian suicide bombing attack last week - which killed five - Israel may once again resume the practice.

Itzhak Beni, chief executive of the Elisra Group's Tadiran Electronic Systems and Tadiran Spectralink companies, said: "We are fulfilling the science fiction movies that we see," adding that the system allows troops "to see everything that is behind the hill and around the corner." Beni also noted that the "improved information can help troops minimize civilian casualties in the crowded refugee camps and city streets where Israeli troops and Palestinian militants often clash".

Palestinian human rights advocate Hanan Ashrawi countered: "Nobody doubts Israelis can develop these weapons. But is this the kind of sophistication they need against defenseless people? It seems like a case of overkill."

Perhaps I should dismiss Ms. Ashrawi's claims first. I agree, this sort of technological wizardry should be totally unnecessary in dealing with defenseless people. But what has that to do with the Palestinians?

Palestinian terror groups (of which there are many) are anything but defenseless. They feel free to use many weapons and techniques that the IDF deliberately refrains from using -- such as suicide bombers and human booby-traps, human shields, and so on. The Palestinians have repeatedly shown that they are quite willing to murder their own innocent non-combatants, if they can take some Israelis with them; we've seen this, for example, when the Palestinians booby-trapped entire buildings to collapse on top of Israeli soldiers, without bothering to clear out the innocents inside first.

The IDF, by contrast, has repeatedly shown that it will take extraordinary care to pinpoint combatants only. (This can be extremely difficult; please remember that the Palestinian combatants wear no uniform, deliberately blending in with the local population as much as possible, which is part of why they're called "terrorists". Often, IDF troops can identify the enemy combatants only when those combatants start shooting at them.) The IDF has taken heavy casualties among its own soldiers, so as to avoid innocent loss of life on the other side... not once, but many, many times.

So if IDF troops on the ground can now "see" the birds-eye view of a combat zone, enabling them to identify the ringleaders at a distance and pinpoint them, I'm all for it. This will save innocent Palestinian lives, and it will probably save quite a few Israeli lives as well.

Of course, even more Palestinian lives would be saved if they'd simply stop attacking Israel altogether. But that's a different topic for a different day.


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