"We have achieved very high success in the military campaign. From the opening strike onward, the achievements intensify and accumulate," Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Lt. Col. Herzi Halevi said Saturday evening during an operational situation assessment in the Kirya base in Tel Aviv with the participation of members of the General Staff Forum and representatives of the Shin Bet.
"The continued shooting of Islamic Jihad allows us to deepen the achievements. We are prepared to continue the targeted countermeasures and attacks in a precise and increasing manner, as we have done in recent days," Halevi also said.
A significant part of those strikes and countermeasures use unmanned aircraft. Squadron 161, which operates the Hermes 450 ("Zik") unmanned helicopter from the Palmachim airbase in central Israel, is particularly important –and the commander of the Palmachim base, Brig. Gen. Omri Dor, elaborated on this in a conversation with Ynet.
"We are putting our efforts in three main areas – attack, defense and collection," said the commander of the Palmachim base. "At the military and IDF level, the most noticeable and important aspect the cooperation between the Southern Command, the Shin Bet, the Air Force and the Gaza Division."
Regarding the drones, and his thinking on preventing harm to civilians, Dror said: "The UAV is involved in all missions, everywhere in the Gaza Strip. In targeted countermeasures, we invest a lot of resources of time, armaments, and personnel, so as not to harm those not involved."
How many times have you had to stop action because of civilians?
"Dozens of times. But it's not black or white. When there are civilians near a certain attack you stop, in another you move further away. It's delays or cancellations, and mostly adjustments. If I discover that there is someone on a certain floor who shouldn't be hurt, I can bring another plane. When I see children running in the field, I will cancel. Wherever we know there are civilians, we do not act or adjust the action."
How much do you see them using it (human shields)?
"You see it all the time. When they launch from schools during the day in the middle of the week, when they walk around with weapons in populated areas. You see the children playing outside while bombs explode near them, it's not natural. It's not accidental that they are near children. And we must say one more thing - because of the targeted killings and the feeling of being persecuted, they start to make mistakes and behave differently."
According to Dror: "We have the ability to hit very precisely, incidental damage is almost non-existent. We can thwart a launch and 10 meters away you can see someone there who was not hurt." He noted that "we see a significant impairment in their ability to use weapons. There is a 50% decrease in surface launches, which is a great achievement. The identifying them before the launch stresses them a lot, rightfully so."
Dor said that in the operation in Gaza "we are both gathering intelligence and attacking. A drone is sent up, collects information, jumps to launch (a rocket). There is intelligence on a squad, verifications are made – and the same tool that collects the intelligence eliminates the squad. The pace here is dizzying, bringing high achievements and an excellent result."
First published: 21:52, 05.13.23