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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 cochy on 3/13/2008 4:29:57 PM , Rating: 5
No one was kicked out of anywhere. The Palestinians left on their own accord after the neighboring Arab nations told them that they are going to annihilate Israel and they should leave until the job is done. The resulting wars against the Arab nation were all handedly won by Israel. The Arabs who stayed are now all citizens of Israel with Arab representation in the parliament. The ones who left were kicked out of Jordan or Egypt or where ever they fled to and now rest in Gaza and the West bank.

RE: Peace
By derwin on 3/13/2008 5:27:01 PM , Rating: 4
"kicked out" is a very subjective term. Perhaps the leadership of palestine agreed due to pressure from their neigbhors, but i doubt the people who actually lived there, the citizens of palestine, agreed with this plan. Hence the sensation of being "kicked out." Perhaps their own gov't is to blame, but these people none the less feel as if they were removed from their home land.

Ask a native american who removed them from their land. Was it the US gov't or was it their leaders who agreed to the deals to sell the US land. I doubt many would blame their own leaders.

It is a subjective question, and the answer varies not just by what side of it you are on, but even by who you ask regardless of side.

In all fairness, I think a just world would not have given Isreal that land, but then again, in a just world, the Jews would have been protected from Hitler... and in a just world Hitler would not have rose to power... and I can go on. The matter of fact is that Isreal is where it is, and it is not going anywhere.

That statement has to mean both implyied meanings. It is not leaving, nor is it spreading out.

That is the one point that Isreal must take the high road on for anything to work. Religious values are not worth the lives of your citizens. Period. If taking more of the holy land costs you 1000 civilian deaths, just don't do it.

As for the other side, how does the extremist muslim side become quelled? That is the harder question. The US has in recent years tried a new solution "proactive war." Arguably it has reduced attacks again US facilities (beyond Iraq) and has given other extremist (not to neccisarily argue Sadam was anything of the sort, but I digress...) groups in the region a second thought if they intend to act beyond their boarders or against a civilian population. This strategy however may have untold consequences. What of those who's lives were ruined by the results of fighting due to US occupation? Will they blame Sadam for briging us here, or will they more likely blame us for being there? What will they do to retaliate? More than likely they will not take any action against us, out of both fear and civility, but I am sure of the thousands of lives ruined, there will be a hand full who will attempt to take action. What then?

This leaves us where we started. What to do about the at-best loosely affiliated and very feverant muslim groups?

I for one feel that killing them, even if an effective solution could not be the right one, so we still have some work to do.

RE: Peace
By os008 on 3/14/2008 3:41:46 AM , Rating: 2
Good point of view really, I've always tried comparing the Native Americans to the Palestinians, with an exception, Israelis actually were living in peace with Arabs, they weren't occupants. But they took advantage of the Arabs as soon as they got the green light.

Unfortunately, extremists will always make us look as if we're all terrorists. It's up to anyone to take a closer look and stop generalizing. Just an example ... KKK.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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