On October 22, the Israeli army released footage of the Maglan commando unit deploying a new precision-guided 120mm mortar bomb named Iron Sting against Hamas in Gaza. Elbit Systems, the Haifa-based manufacturer of the bomb, has been promoting its quality on the public relations page of its website since March 2021, coinciding with the bomb's integration into the Israeli army.
Benny Gantz, who was Israel's defense minister at the time and is now a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's war cabinet, described the Iron Sting as "designed to precisely attack targets in both open terrain and urban environments while reducing the likelihood of collateral damage and preventing injuries." This assertion is echoed by Mark Regev, Netanyahu's former spokesman, regarding the country's overall approach to its conflict with Gaza, where Regev stated that Israel was "trying to be as surgical as humanly possible."
According to Al Jazeera’s report analysts suggest that there are global buyers interested in the destructive "surgical" killing machines that Israel is testing on Palestinians.
Ahmed Saeed al-Najar, 28, was driving his taxi in Rafah during Gaza's third war in 2014 when a drone missile penetrated the open sunroof of his taxi. The car exploded, resulting in the decapitation and death of all six passengers, including his best friend.
The car had been targeted by an Israeli Spike drone rocket, which can be modified to carry a fragmentation shell consisting of thousands of 3mm tungsten cubes. This shell is reported to have affected an area approximately 20 meters in diameter. According to Erik Fosse, a Norwegian doctor working in Gaza, the cubes pierce the metal and "cause tissue to break away from the flesh," literally tearing apart anyone within range.
The Heron TP "Eitan" drone is Israel's largest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and entered service in 2007. Manufactured by the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the country's largest aerospace and defense company and its largest industrial exporter, the drone can fly continuously for up to 40 hours and carry four spike missiles.
According to the NGO Drone Wars United Kingdom, the Eitan was initially deployed for attacks on civilians during "Operation Cast Lead" in the 2008-09 Gaza war. Based on Defence for Children International, out of the 353 children killed and 860 wounded in Operation Cast Lead, 116 lost their lives due to missiles launched from drones.
Following the war, IAI experienced a surge in orders for Heron variant drones from at least 10 countries between 2008 and 2011. In this timeframe, more than 100 drones were either purchased, leased, or acquired through joint venture programs.
India – Israel’s largest military buyer, which operates more than 100 Israeli-made UAVs – purchased 34 Heron drones in this period, followed by France (24), Brazil (14) and Australia (10), according to a 2014 report by Drone Wars UK.
Last month, Colombian President Gustavo Petro declined to label the surprise attack launched by Hamas on Oct.7, as a "terrorist attack." Instead, he asserted that "terrorism kills innocent children in Palestine." In response to this stance, the Israeli government suspended all sales of defense and security equipment, along with related services, to the Latin American country.
Despite its numerous military export successes, the extent of Israel's defense industry sales remains undisclosed. A 2019 report by Amnesty International highlighted the opacity surrounding the entire process through which Israel sells arms.
Amnesty International revealed that "Israeli companies export weapons that reach their destination through a series of transactions, thus eluding international oversight." Israel has yet to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, which prohibits the sale of weapons posing a risk of use in genocide and crimes against humanity. Consequently, arms exports have significantly shaped the histories of various nations, many of which are governed by controversial regimes.
In 2018, former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte expressed a preference for procuring weapons exclusively from Israel, citing the absence of restrictions compared to the United States or Europe.
Government regulations implemented last year enable Israel to sell more weapons to additional countries without licenses, resulting in reduced controls. This strategy has proven successful, as Israel's arms exports more than doubled in the past decade, reaching a total of $12.5 billion last year.
Over the years, the Israeli army has experimented with rubber bullets, AI-powered robotic weapons, and different crowd dispersal solutions, leading to severe injuries among Palestinians.
Nabeel al-Shawa, a consultant orthopedic surgeon who has worked in Gaza since 1978, treated numerous Palestinians injured by Israeli fire during the Great March of Return in 2018. Tens of thousands of Palestinians participated, demanding the right to return to their land, from which they were forcibly removed in 1948.
Ashraf al-Qudra, the spokesperson for the Gaza Health Ministry, stated in a press release last week that medical teams in the area "observed severe burns on the bodies of Palestinians killed and wounded by Israeli bombs."
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Dr. Ahmed el-Mohallalati of the Burn and Plastic Surgery Department at Al-Shifa Hospital described the injuries as "very deep, third- and fourth-degree burns, with skin tissue full of black particles." El-Mokhallalati clarified that these were not phosphorus burns but rather "a combination of a wave of incendiary bombs and other components."
As of now, the Israeli military has not responded to the Gaza Ministry's statement. Nevertheless, the introduction of mysterious incendiary bombs, the debut of the Iron Sting, and reports of the use of the new Spark drone in the current conflict suggest that Israel is once again testing new weapons in the ongoing conflict.
Source: Al Jazeera