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The new weapon systems Israel is using to battle Hamas in Gaza

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The new weapon systems Israel is using to battle Hamas in Gaza



Late at night on October 31, three missiles were launched from the Yemeni desert along the Red Sea coastline. Their target? The sunny resort town of Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, located at a triangle of borders between Egypt and Jordan.

Alarms went off at a secluded Israeli Air Force (IAF) base in southern Israel, and soldiers, operating in a bunker underground began collecting as much data as they could on the incoming projectile, which was making its way – at supersonic speeds – towards the Jewish state.

Based on its speed, size and trajectory, the IAF concluded that the missile was of Iranian design and had been fired from an area in Yemen, controlled by the Houthis, a rebel group supported by Iran, Israel’s arch nemesis. IAF commanders gave the green light and launched an Arrow-2 interceptor from a battery stationed somewhere in Israel. Within minutes, the two missiles met somewhere over Jordan, where parts of the Iranian missiles were later discovered.

While Israel has been using the Iron Dome missile defense system to defend against short-range rockets like the ones Hamas fires, this was the first time Israel used the Arrow, a missile defense system it began developing in the mid 1990s, in combat.

A week later, Israel again used the Arrow, although this time it was the next generation variant known as the Arrow-3, which intercepted another Iranian missile fired from Yemen outside the earth’s atmosphere, pushing the boundaries once again of Israeli technology and missile defense. The interception could not have come at a better time for the manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries. On November 23, Israel finalized the first export sale of the Arrow-3 to Germany for a whopping $3.6 billion.

VISITORS VIEW a model of the Arrow 3 interceptor missile on display at an aerospace conference in Jerusalem. (credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

“This sends an important message to Iran as well because the same type of missiles that the Houthis fired are deployed in Iran and they can see that Israel can intercept them,” explained Yair Ramati, former head of the Israeli Missile Defense Organization. “It shows that the system is effective.”

The story of the Arrow and its successful use is just one regarding the new technologies that Israel has been using in the anti-Hamas war in Gaza that was sparked by the October 7 invasion and massacre of over 1,200 people.

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Here is a detailed description of additional new weapons systems that the Israel Defense Forces has been using in its battle to eliminate Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Trophy

Developed By Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Israel, the Trophy is an active-protection system that can intercept incoming anti-tank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, used frequently by Hamas terror squads operating from inside the group’s tunnel network. It is installed on all Israeli Merkava Mk-4 tanks operating in Gaza; numerous videos from the past few weeks have documented its use.

“We encountered dozens of anti-tank missiles that flew toward our forces and we were able to prevent harm from all of them due to the effective systems we have,” explained Brig.-Gen. Itzik Cohen, commander of the IDF’s 162nd Division that is operating in the northern Gaza Strip.

The idea to invent an active-protection system for tanks was born in the 1970s, after the Yom Kippur War, during which IDF tanks suffered heavy losses at the hands of Egyptian anti-tank squads.

It would take years until Trophy became operational – but when it did, it was a revolution. It gave the IDF the ability to take tanks– an artifact of 20th century wars – and transform them to be relevant in asymmetric and close urban battles like those in Gaza.

Trophy operates in three stages. First, its radar detects the launching of a RPG or anti-tank missile. Its second stage, in soft-kill mode, activates electronic warfare systems aimed at causing the missile to go off course. If that fails, the system initiates the third stage and shoots off a cloud of countermeasures – metal pellets – to intercept the incoming projectile.

Trophy’s radar then interfaces with the IDF’s battle management system called Tzayad (Hunter), automatically providing the tank crew with the coordinates of the anti-tank squad that just fired the missile so it can immediately be attacked.

Eitan APC

Israel has long used armored personnel carriers but they have always been on tracks. In this Gaza war, the IDF is using for the first time the Eitan, the country’s first wheeled APC that can continue running even after hit by heavy gunfire.

Due to its 750-horsepower engine, the Eitan can reach speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour on its eight wheels, giving it all-terrain maneuvering capabilities and the ability to quickly enter and exit combat zones. The Eitan can carry 12 soldiers and comes with a remote weapon station armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun, as well as a mounted 7.62mm machine gun.

Its first trial of fire was on October 7 during the Hamas invasion when soldiers from one of the IDF’s infantry brigades scrambled to one of the bases under attack and used the Eitan’s heavy machine guns to neutralize dozens of terrorists.

The APC was developed by the IDF Tank and APC Directorate which also manufactures the Merkava Tank. The Eitan comes with peripheral cameras equipped with day and night vision to ensure security, touch monitors and special mapping systems to quickly process routes for off road operations.

Like tanks, the Eitan also comes with an active protection system – although for this platform, the Defense Ministry chose the Iron Fist, which is developed by Elbit Systems, another Israeli defense company. Iron Fist works similarly to Trophy and is said to be capable of also intercepting suicide drones that might try to crash into vehicles.

Firefly and Iron Sting

Two new offensive weapons are the Firefly loitering munition and the Iron Sting precision-guided mortar shell.Mortar shells are used regularly by infantry in combat zones but they are historically unreliable due to their low level of precision. The Iron Sting was designed to engage fixed targets with a high degree of precision, allowing operators to use laser guidance or GPS to accurately hit their targets.

It was used in the first weeks of the war by the IDF’s Maglan Unit, an elite commando squad known for covert operations and special offensive weapons.

The mortar is launched ballistically, and when it reaches its peak altitude, two small “wings” open at its tail. The wings are connected to the Iron Sting’s internal engine and computer, and are responsible for guiding the mortar to its target. While in air, the mortar will follow the laser designation but, if it does not show due to fog or haze, it will default to the preloaded GPS coordinates.

Firefly is a different system that works as a loitering munition, also known as a suicide drone. It looks something like a stick with propellers and weighs a mere 3 kilograms, making it easy for a single soldier to carry and use. It can be rapidly deployed within seconds and an operator tracks its flight on a tablet. It includes a rugged airframe to withstand the harsh environment of urban combat and it is said to be extremely intuitive, with no special skills required to operate it.

Using an electro-optic camera at its base, Firefly – or Maoz as it is called in the IDF – has a flight time up to 30 minutes and a range up to 1,000 meters, reaching speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour.

“We see the Firefly as a building block in future potential applications for a large variety of battle arenas,” Ran Gozali, head of the Land & Naval Division of Rafael said in 2020 when the IDF purchased the system.

AI Targeting

One of the main changes in the current war has been in the use of artificial intelligence, particularly when it comes to the creation of target banks – weapons caches, command centers, rocket launchers and senior commanders – that the IDF creates for units fighting Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

This new way of fighting – combining AI with classic military operations – is giving Israel a new advantage on the modern battlefield.

If, before 2020, it would take the IDF 10 days to identify and approve 10 targets, it can now – with special classified software written by young soldiers – identify and approve 100 targets in the same amount of time.

“This changes the way we fight and gives us the ability to create targets at speeds that were previously unimaginable,” the commander of the AI target system said.

IDF officers openly admit that if in the past it had only a few hundred targets on Hamas or Hezbollah, before this war broke out on October 7 it already had in its bank several thousand. In addition, with the new AI-driven software, the military can significantly increase the number of targets it creates in real-time.

What the AI does is synergize between all of the different intelligence data that are collected by the IDF via signal intelligence (SIGINT), visual intelligence (VISINT) and human intelligence (HUMINT) allowing analysts to quickly sift through immense amounts of data and piece it together into viable attackable targets.

What this stems from is the desire to shorten what is known as the sensor-to-shooter cycle – the amount of time it takes from when an enemy target is detected by a sensor – either human or electronic – and when it is attacked.

One of the new systems to assist with this, and used by the IDF in Gaza, is Rafael’s Fire Weaver, developed in partnership with Mafat, the Defense Ministry’s R&D Directorate. The networked sensor-to-shooter system connects intelligence-gathering sensors to weapons that are in the field, allowing for unprecedented target identification and engagement.

Artificial intelligence is just one of the dramatic changes that have occurred in the IDF that will accompany the military in the years to come. Combined with the establishment of new units integrating new technology – personal drones and ground robots as examples – the IDF is becoming faster, more lethal and more technological. The world is getting a taste of some of that on the ground right now in Gaza.   





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Jewish diaspora expresses concern as Iranian drones launch toward Israel

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Jewish diaspora expresses concern as Iranian drones launch toward Israel



Jewish diaspora organizations expressed concern for Israel and increased their own security preparedness as Iran launched drones against Israel on Saturday night.

The Jewish Federation said it was comforted by IDF statements that the situation was under control and by the statements of support by the United States of America, but was watching “Iran’s launch of an attack on Israel with extreme concern.”

“We are monitoring the situation very closely and join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Israel.”

Preparing for attacks in the diaspora

The Conference of European Rabbis said that Jewish communities in Europe were raising their level of preparedness, given the history of Iranian proxies attacking Jewish targets on the continent.

A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on October 4, 2023. (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

“We are closely monitoring the Iranian attack on Israel and its implications for the security of Jews in the diaspora,” said conference president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt. ‘We are in contact with all the leaders of the Jewish communities and security officials across the continent. I call on all Jews across Europe to remain vigilant in community institutions and to act responsibly in the public sphere.” 





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Dozens of Palestinians and Jews injured in West Bank altercations

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Dozens of Palestinians and Jews injured in West Bank altercations



The IDF said on Saturday night that dozens of Jews and Palestinians had been injured in altercations in the West Bank following the terrorist murder of 14-year-old shepherd, Binyamin Achimair.

Though he was murdered on Friday, his death was only confirmed Saturday afternoon, with the subsequent violence between Jewish extremists and Palestinians being declared the largest battles in the area not involving IDF forces since February 2023.

In February 2023, dozens or more of extremist Jews burned large swaths of Palestinian property in Huwara in the West Bank, injured a number of Palestinians, and killed at least one Palestinian.

The IDF said it had significantly beefed up its forces in the area to try to maintain order, but it appeared to be on a significant delay from after multiple rounds of attempts by Jewish extremists to take revenge on nearby Palestinians villages, though these extremists did not have any specific information about who might have committed the murder.

After February 2023, the IDF apologized for failing to react fast enough to protect Palestinians and had said it would preemptively beef up to be ready for future potential reactions by Jewish extremists to the killing of Jews in the West Bank by Palestinians.

Binyamin Achimair, Missing 14-year-old boy from Samaria, Police are requesting help in searching, April 12, 2024. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

One area attacked by Jewish extremists on Saturday was the Duma village, south of Nablus.

A mix of Israeli, Arab, and US media reported that Jewish extremists also attacked over Friday and Saturday al-Mughayyir, Deir Dibwan, and Beitin, east of Ramallah and the town of Sinjil, northeast of Ramallah.

Violence from both sides

There were also reports of Palestinian counterattacks.

It was unclear which reports involved live fire, which lower grade rock-throwing style violence and how much violence was committed by each side.

Reports did say that dozens of Palestinians’ cars or structures were set on fire by extremist Jews, with some reports of Palestinian deaths.

By Shin Bet statistics, most extremist Jews, though not all, involved in violence come from a specific list of West Bank settlements or outposts.





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Israeli drone shot down by Hezbollah was worth $10 million

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Israeli drone shot down by Hezbollah was worth $10 million



An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down last Saturday by Hezbollah. The UAV was later revealed as an Elbit Systems Hermes 900 Kochav, valued at around $10 million. 

The Hermes 900 is Elbit’s largest drone and has been sold to the Israeli Air Force, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and according to foreign reports, Azerbaijan. The UAV is a relatively large and expensive drone capable of staying in the air for approximately 30 straight hours.

Hermes 900 UAV (credit: ELBIT SYSTEMS)

The IDF’s response to Hezbollah terror

Following the downing of the UAV, the IDF struck targets in Baalbek deep in Lebanon, on the border with Syria. Missiles were fired in the next morning towards the Golan Heights, and in the afternoon towards Kibbutz Manara and Moshav Margaliot.

Proceeding this, about a month and a half ago, the IDF announced that an Israeli Air Force UAV was shot down by Hezbollah in Lebanese territory. In response, the IDF struck targets of the terrorist organization in the Baalbek area in Lebanon for the first time since the Second Lebanon War. Baalbek is approximately 100 km. north of the border and is the northernmost target that the IDF has struck since the beginning of the war.





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