State of the art technology helps minimize harm to civilians

At a convention on urban warfare, Maj. Gen. (res.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben Yisrael discussed the IDF´s technological advancements towards minimizing collateral damage

Date: 02/06/2013, 5:24 PM     Author: Noam Witman

"From operation to operation the IDF succeeds in significantly decreasing harm to civilians, something which is allowed for by evolving technology and measures that we did not have in the past," said Maj. Gen. (res.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, speaking today (Wednesday, February 6) at a convention on combat in densely populated areas. The convention was held by the Institute for National Security Studies.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Prof. Ben Yisrael is a military scientist currently serving as chairman of the Israel Space Agency. The professor and major general served in the past as Director of the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Ben Yisrael addressed the convention about the importance of minimizing harm to civilians, which has always been clear to the IDF and ironclad in its ethical code of conduct. He emphasized that in recent years technological developments have had the most significant impact on contributing to that end.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Ben Yisrael referred to improvements in aerial technology to illustrate how effective technology can improve accuracy and reduce collateral damage. According to the professor, in 1973, the chance of hitting a tank from the air and destroying it was very small, and had about a one percent success rate. Just ten years later, when aircraft had been fitted with digital computers, accuracy improved by 500 percent. "The capacity for accuracy between 1972 and 2003 rose by 100 times," Maj. Gen. (res.) Ben Yisrael emphasized.

Meanwhile, the IDF's traditional threat – invasion by foreign armies – has diminished in importance, and terror organizations have become the primary threat. "We understood that there was a need to adjust technology to [suit] complex warfare in dense areas in which there are civilians present," Maj. Gen. (res.) Ben Yisrael noted. "Also, the targets are people and not tanks and artillery, something which requires adjusting the technology to the new environment."

Maj. Gen. (res.) Ben Yisrael referred to the importance of technology in assisting to single out targets in densely populated areas. "It is important to identify the threat in a crowded environment and strike the target with precision," he explained. "It is possible to achieve this using precise-guided munitions and sensors. When you want to strike small targets like people, [you] need to use more intelligence in order to ensure that the target is the right one." In order to do this, the IDF utilizes command and control systems, which increase the resolution of sensors.

Additionally, the trend over the last 40 years has been for the IDF to advance towards using smaller bombs. "The moment you have accuracy, even if you use less explosive material, it will still do the job," Maj. Gen. (res.) Ben Yisrael explained. "When you decrease the size of the explosion you reduce the unwanted collateral damage and minimize harm to civilians."