Sci-fi tanks meet prehistoric rockets in Gaza

While Hamas is throwing rockets by hand, the Israel military is unveiling high-tech weaponry like the new "Iron Fist", capable of exploding a missile before it has even reached its target. Will technology make all the difference in Gaza? Read more...


While Hamas is throwing rockets by hand, the Israeli military is unveiling high-tech weaponry like the new "Iron Fist", capable of exploding a missile before it's even reached its target. Will technology make all the difference in Gaza?

Israel's reputation as a mighty military force was left shaken in 2006 after its bloody conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The war began with a missile attack on Israeli tanks, a strategy that Hezbollah then continued to use successfully throughout the 33-day fight. In response, the Jewish state has spent the past two years developing state-of-the-art equipment designed to prevent missiles by neutralising them with an interceptor before they make contact. Christened the "Iron Fist", the system has been tried and tested in production, but is yet to see real combat. As the promotional video states, "this age of asymmetric warfare poses a neat challenge to the survivability of armoured fighting vehicles".

When we tried to contact the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), they refused to comment on the potential uses and impacts of this type of equipment.

"This is the biggest innovation in the current conflict"

Joel Schalit is an Israeli writer and commentator on Middle East affairs.

This conflict is widely perceived as a means of correcting the Israeli Defense Force's reputation as a professional fighting force to its pre-Lebanon status. The biggest threat that Israeli ground forces faced in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 was Hezbollah's use of advanced anti-tank weaponry. Hezbollah was able to take out an unprecedented number of Israeli combat vehicles, including the latest generation Merkava tank, considered to be the most advanced tank in the world. There is a great deal of concern that Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip have assimilated these lessons, deployed the same weaponry, and will implement the same tactics as Hezbollah.

Therefore, a lot of emphasis has been placed on Israeli development of active vehicle protection technologies. I would wager that this is the biggest innovation in the current conflict, at least in terms of potential fighting on the ground. However, even a well-trained and led force with the best equipment can be defeated. Especially if the forces being confronted are fighting on their home turf, for their own homes. Hamas' fighting skills have improved dramatically in recent years, according to the Israeli army."

"Israel's ADS will have a minimal impact tactically in Gaza "

Michel Goya is a Lieutenant Colonel in the French army

The Israelis, the Americans, and to a lesser degree the French, have been looking into ADS (active defence systems) for armoured vehicles for some years now. We can't go any further with traditional armour because the RPG 29 - a Russian rocket launcher considered the best on the market - can break through even the strongest armour. 

This research is very complex and very costly - it's very specific technology that uses lasers to detect movement. And it's very difficult to install such a thing on a small scale.

It was the Lebanon War in 2006 that got everyone interested in this technology, because Hezbollah had managed to get hold of the famous RPG 29 rocket launchers and use them against the Israeli tanks. The Israeli Army wants to avoid the same thing happening at all costs.

However, I think that Gaza and Lebanon are two very different combat zones, and Israel's ADS will have a minimal impact tactically if it's put to work in the Gaza Strip. Firstly, Hezbollah and Hamas are not the same thing - the former are supported by Iran and Syria, and benefit from much better equipment and training than Hamas, who are completely cut off from any network. To my knowledge, Hamas doesn't possess RPG 29 anti-tank rocket launchers (and if they do then it's very bad news, because it would indicate a strong involvement from Russia against Israel).

Plus, ADS is principally an anti-missile defence. Using anti-tank missiles in Gaza is almost impossible, because you need 500 to 1,000 metres distance minimum. So there's not enough space. The Palestinians will more likely turn towards more improvised means like putting explosive devices on the road, which ADS can do nothing about. The Israelis will also have to resort to more traditional defence methods in protecting their personnel transport vehicles, which are the most vulnerable."

The "Iron Fist Active Protection System"

The promotional video from the IMI (Israeli Military Industries, the military production arm of the Israeli government).