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Israel building rocket battalion

Israel,Defence/Security, Tue, 03 Apr 2012 IANS

Tel Aviv, April 3 (IANS) The Israeli military is setting up a rocket battalion to help minimize civilian casualties in future combat operations in the Gaza Strip.


Israel mostly relies on aircraft armed with heavy ordnance to target Palestinian militant groups and their infrastructure in periodic fighting in the coastal territory.


The new battalion, part of the army's Artillery Corps, will fire a precision-strike rocket with a 20-kg warhead, Xinhua reported quoting the Ha'aretz daily.


With the exception of the US-made Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), which the Artillery Corps began using in the 1990s, the Israeli military has generally refrained from using rockets.


But recent technological developments have significantly lowered costs and improved the accuracy of rockets, making them attractive to the army, whose battles are increasingly waged in densely populated urban areas.


"With this device, which is a sort of mini-bomb, we can control the extent of the damage," a senior artillery officer told Ha'aretz.


According to plans currently being drawn by the army's Ground Forces Command, troops will evacuate a targeted building before a rocket is fired.


The battalion, scheduled to begin operating next year, will initially be armed with a rocket with a range of up to 40 km, and with super long-range rockets in the coming years.


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