Israel managed to kill
40 terrorists in Gaza in December, all from the air, and in the process not
causing any civilian casualties. This is the end result of a five year trend.
Back in 2003, one civilian was killed or wounded for each terrorist casualty.
That has come down every year, until for this year, only three percent of the
casualties from these missile attacks were civilians. This was a combination of
better training for the helicopter and F-16 pilots, extra attention paid to the
preparation of the missiles or smart bombs to be used for the attacks, and
better intelligence on exactly where the terrorists are.
The principal weapon for these attacks
has been the Hellfire II missiles, which weighs 106 pounds, carries a 20 pound
warhead (containing only a few pounds of explosives) and has a range of 8,000
meters. The missile is most commonly used by the AH-64 helicopter gunship
(which can carry up to sixteen Hellfires at once), while larger weapons are
fired from F-16 fighters. Over the
years, Hellfires intended for anti-terrorist work have been gone over very
carefully by the maintenance personnel. That's because the slightest deviation
by the missile can cause lots of civilian casualties. Usually, the Hellfire is
being used against a car, truck or SUV carrying the terrorists. The bad guys
know the Israelis go out of their way to avoid hurting civilians, so the
terrorists try to stay among civilians as much as possible. In other words, the
terrorists use civilians as human shields. But the Israelis know what is going
on, and have improved their spy network in Gaza, and use of high flying UAVs,
so they can track the terrorist vehicles and nail them during those few moments
when they are away from civilians.