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Nautilus Tactical High Energy Laser  (Source: Northrop Grumman)

Effective range of Kassam and Katyusha rockets.  (Source: Koret Communications Ltd.)
Residents in Sderot have had enough of rocket attacks and want the laser-based Nautilus system in place

DailyTech recently discussed the use of military-grade laser used as weapons in a number of articles. Boeing installed a 12,000-pound, high-energy laser into its C-130H Gunship and Northrop Grumman has similar "laser ambitions" with the Guardian anti-missile system installed in an MD-10 cargo jet.

While Americans are typically apathetic to the use of such technology for military duties, some residents in Israel are clamoring to have laser-based weapons as a safety net for their towns. Sderot residents have gone so far as to sue the Israeli government -- more specifically, they named Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as defendants in the civil suit.

The Sderot residents want the Israeli government to install the Nautilus Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) system to protect the region from Kassam and Katyusha rockets. Sderot has been heavily bombarded with such rockets over the years which have resulted in numerous deaths. The residents feel that suing the government may be its only chance for protection against further attacks.

"Israel could bring the system to Sderot and use it to protect the people there from Kassam rockets," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner who heads the Israel Law Center which represents the Sderot residents. "In 1996, when Israel was under threat from Lebanon, Israel asked the United States to help them establish a system to protect northern settlements from Katyusha rockets. This system, called Nautilus, shot down Katyushas, Kassams and bombs with 100 percent success."

Unfortunately for the Sderot residents, the Nautilus program stalled in 2005 after ten years of development and $400 million USD spent between Israel and the United States. Since that time, rocket fire has increased which has led the Israeli government to develop yet another system dubbed "Iron Dome." The Iron Dome system will cost the government $100,000 for each incoming rocket it destroys – if it destroys them at all. Recent tests show that Iron Dome is incapable of protecting Sderot from incoming Kassam rockets.

"[Nautilus is] just sitting there in New Mexico. There is a way to take it apart, bring it to Israel and rebuild it," Darshan-Leitner continued. "A company told me that it would take no longer than five or six months. It would cost around 50 million dollars to rebuild it, but there would be unlimited protection against Katyushas, Kassams, and bombs."

Despite Darshan-Leitner's optimism of the performance of the Nautilus system -- she quotes an extremely optimistic 100 perfect effective rate -- a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Ministry says that such claims are preposterous. "As long as there was a chance that the results would lead to a functional, effective missile defense system we stuck with the program. But in 2005 the US military backed out of the program because it wasn't working, and we decided to end our involvement as well," said spokesman Shlomo Dror.

Despite the concerns from Sderot residents, Dror tried to express that the government is working hard to provide protection for its citizens.

"There is no way to put a price tag on the trauma caused by living with the ongoing threat from, and even more for people injured or even killed by Kassam attacks, God forbid," said Dror. "We are spending as much as we need to in order to develop the most effective system we can to protect residents of Sderot and the entire western Negev region."

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RE: Peace
By KristopherKubicki on 3/13/2008 3:11:02 PM , Rating: 3
You sure about that? The Abbasid Empire ruled the region for 500 years resulting in one of the most prosperous empires in history while Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages.

And believe it or not the Muslims and Jews got along just fine back then; the empire encouraged Christians, Jews and Muslims to respect each other since it was profitable for everyone to cooperate.

So peace hasn't been an option in the middle east since relatively recently. And to dismiss the thought that it could not return to peace as proposed by the great thinkers of Jewish and Muslim faith seems pretty shortsighted.

RE: Peace
By mdogs444 on 3/13/2008 3:26:16 PM , Rating: 2
I think you fail to see the real reason in this case. Its not necessarily that the Muslims hated the Jews. The problem is the Gaza Strip & holy land, and one side trying to take sole ownership of that land. Thats what is creating a conflict between religions because neither side is going to give up their faith and need for the land for their people.

RE: Peace
By KristopherKubicki on 3/13/2008 3:47:44 PM , Rating: 4
That is a perceived threat on both sides, I understand. However there is considerably more to the conflict, and the debate over religious relics and temples is a "here look at this shiny ball and ignore the core issues" sort of thing.

Much of the Palestinian resentment, for example, focuses around collective retribution, settlements and refugee status. The Israeli resentment focuses on security and international status. And then both sides dispute resources like water for irrigation.

The media spin that Jewish holy places will be in Palestinian territory, and that Muslim holy places will be in Israeli territory is a cheap tactic to easily infuriate both sides, though from what I remember it doesn't even garner recognition in the Oslo accords.

Tourism a GREAT thing, do you think the people who live near those relics honestly care who officially owns it? Seems to me they'd rather just let things cool and continue to make money of pilgrams, like they've done for thousands of years -- OK 1200 years in the case of the Muslim holy places.

RE: Peace
By UzairH on 3/13/2008 4:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
All well stated, Kristopher. I knew you were a smart guy in tech and science and all that jazz, but had no idea you were so well-read on (non-USA) history :) Anyways I have no affiliation with either side of the conflict but as an impartial observer I just ask the question: why was Israel formed by kicking out those who were already living there for centuries, when it was not the Arabs and Muslims who had tormented them in WW2 and the centuries before but the German Nazi regime and before that the Roman empire, the Christians in the crusades etc. The point is that, as you pointed out, the Muslims had always been nice to the people of Judaism, there never was any anti-semitism in the Muslims. Now the world has been turning to a blind eye while Israel openly threatens (and in fact carries out), a new holocaust on the people of Palestine.

Anyway, there is a saying that Might is Right, and obviously the people of Palestine are but a midget next next to the mighty American backed Israeli juggernaut.

Peace for all,

RE: Peace
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2008 4:22:48 PM , Rating: 1
You forget that the Jews lived in that region long before the Muslims. Compared to Judaism, Islam is an extremely young religion.

RE: Peace
By KristopherKubicki on 3/13/2008 4:31:17 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, but it was the Roman and Christian empires that banned Jews from living in the area until Muslim rule in 750. This is well documented from Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Roman accounts too.

RE: Peace
By cochy on 3/13/2008 4:42:32 PM , Rating: 4
Impartial observer? lol you must be kidding me. You state that Israel is conducting a "Holocaust" on Palestinians. Don't insult people's intelligence by claiming no bias.

Most of your information is incorrect. No one was kicked out of any land as a result of the formation of Israel. As I have mentioned the Palestinians who left, left on they own because they wanted to flee the upcoming Arab-Israeli wars. There are over 1,000,000 Arab-Israeli citizens in the country and those are the ones who stayed with the new nation.

Trust me the people of Israel want peace. They are fed up with the circle of violence.

RE: Peace
By bigpimpatl on 3/13/2008 6:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
the circle goes around and back, just to clear that up. The israelis are just as culpable as the palestinians. And yes, I would say that the current events do dictate a "catastrophe" on Palestinians as the gaza blockade has resulted in over 1 million people on the brink of starvation, with no access to food, water, supplies etc.

I absolutely admire the israeli tactic: Make everyone suffer for the actions of a few...

RE: Peace
By encryptkeeper on 3/13/2008 9:04:03 PM , Rating: 2
As I have mentioned the Palestinians who left, left on they own because they wanted to flee the upcoming Arab-Israeli wars.

Those wars wouldn't have happened if the Jews weren't promised the land...why do you think there is so little care for international cooperation, particularly with the UN? Besides, on most matters in the UN concerning Israel's violence against Palestine, Israel holds a veto power. That's a huge load of steaming crap if I ever saw one.

Trust me the people of Israel want peace. They are fed up with the circle of violence.

This part of your argument is just laughable. If they really wanted to extend an olive branch, why would they want a laser defense system?????

RE: Peace
By cochy on 3/13/2008 9:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
Not one inch of truth in that post. Israel holds no veto power in the UN. Have a look at how many resolutions are passed in the General Assembly against Israel the answer is quite a bit.

This part of your argument is just laughable. If they really wanted to extend an olive branch, why would they want a laser defense system?????

To shield themselves from rocket attacks. It's called a circle of violence it's not easy to break. Israel unilaterally withdrew 100% from Gaza in an attempt to "extend and olive branch". It had the opposite effect of allowing a militant organization with a platform of war to gain control.

RE: Peace
By kyleb2112 on 3/14/2008 1:27:10 AM , Rating: 2
Israel offered Arafat 98% of the land they wanted and Arafat walked away. It's not about land, it's about killing Jews. If they got all of Israel tomorrow they would still want to kill Jews. Just because someone is poor doesn't mean they can't be evil.

RE: Peace
By charliee on 3/15/2008 9:51:22 PM , Rating: 1
Zachariah 14:1-4,9
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh....
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle...
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west....
And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.

Zachariah 13:6
And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

Ezekiel 28:25-26
Thus saith the Lord God; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob.
And they shall dwell safely therein...when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am the Lord their God.

RE: Peace
By boogle on 3/14/2008 10:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
The Abbasid Empire ruled the region for 500 years resulting in one of the most prosperous empires in history while Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages.

The 'Dark Ages' are only so-called because religious scholars labelled them as such. In essence there was no major religion at the time, instead science was starting to become dominant. Well, until Christianity came along anyway:

RE: Peace
By cochy on 3/14/2008 11:34:04 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the 'Dark Ages' were labeled by modern day historians to reflect the small amount of historical information we have from that period. i.e. we can't really see what went on back then, hence dark.

The term has nothing to do with the societies or religions of the time.

RE: Peace
By JustTom on 3/14/2008 11:44:44 AM , Rating: 2
The Abbasid did not rule the geographic area of modern Israel for 500 years.

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