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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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Takin' the high road...
By Captain Orgazmo on 3/13/2008 6:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
You have got to give credit to the people of Israel who live in these towns in constant fear of being killed by a rocket attack. Instead of demanding that the government retaliate and wipe out the threat, as I surely would, they instead only wish to defend themselves. So they would put themselves at a disadvantage, if only to save the lives of civilians on the other side who likely support the terrorists anyways.




RE: Takin' the high road...
By JS on 3/13/2008 7:01:21 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you can generally expect civilians to support their own side in a conflict. That doesn't make them valid targets, though.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By Captain Orgazmo on 3/13/2008 7:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
Of course civilians are not valid targets (at least not for civilized nations), but Hamas launches the rockets from heavily populated residential neighborhoods to prevent counter-battery fire from Israel. By doing so, Hamas puts civilians in harm's way, as every nation has the right to defend itself (according to the UN and every treaty and agreement ever signed).

In any case, this was not my point, only that I am impressed at the restraint and morality of the people who live in these constantly bombarded towns. When London was bombed in the Blitz, the British wanted (and got) blood; in this particular instant, the Israelis only want not to be bombed.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By brheault on 3/14/2008 1:26:31 PM , Rating: 1
Well, you kind of predictably leave a few things out. I mean, is it any coincidence you didn't mention the fact that Israel has been occupying Gaza and the West Bank for decades? You piously appeal to the "UN and every treaty and agreement ever signed" to invoke Israel's right to defend itself by killing civilians, but does it matter here that the ENTIRE world besides Israel and its US backer have condemned the occupation as illegal. Aggression is illegal, and that's what happened back in '67 resulting in the occupation ever since. According to the principles we established at the Nuremberg trials after WWII, aggression is the supreme international crime differing only from other crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole. So when we see occupied Gazans firing rockets into Israel (as I bet you wouldn't have a problem doing if friggin' Minnesota was occupied by a foreign power) then according to the principles we established ultimate responsibility lies with the occupier.

As for the restraint and morality of the Israeli people, all I can say is that in my experience that's particularly true of the peace movement there, the ones who are calling for the end to the settlements and military occupation. But when you say the Israelis "only want not to be bombed" you miss one the main reasons for the occupation. It is perhaps not a coincidence all the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are built on the best water aquifers, and in fact according declassified documents the military planners talked a lot about water during the war of '67, even more so than they talked about "security". I think they want just a little more than not to be bombed, they want the natural resources of the region for themselves. Gaza is the biggest open air prison in the world, they don't control their borders and have lived under another people's military rule for decades, until we can deal honesty and openly with that we have no right talking about this issue. Every American who loves freedom should take up their cause as if their own freedom were being threatened.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By encryptkeeper on 3/13/2008 8:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
Have you looked at the comparison of Israeli deaths vs Palestinian deaths from the last few years? Google it. You'll probably find that the Israeli's actions aren't exactly "defending themselves". Look at the comparisons, you're talking about 4 Palestinians killed for every 1 Israeli. Plus, the US gives Israel about 3 BILLION in aid every year and the Palestinians get less than 100 million. In the area that used to be Palestine before 1948, there are now 5 million Jews and 5 million Arabs. WTF is that? The Palestinians are refugees, living in tents in fields while the Israelis whine about their stations in life. The Israelis are perfectly capable of defending themselves as it is. I don't have a problem with Israel or the Jewish people, just the situation they take advantage of. As far as I'm concerned, even though the U.N. handed them most of Palestine at the end of WWII, and probably shouldn't have since there were people already living there, the 6 Day War pretty much settled who gets the land. But I'm tired of the US giving the Israelis a pat on the back every time they "defend" themselves. Take some time to look at some real data, you'll probably find that Israel isn't quite so helpless after all.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By HrilL on 3/13/2008 10:14:17 PM , Rating: 1
Israel would have lost the 6 day war if it wasn't for western support they would have lost. And currently the US is giving the Egyptians half of what we give Israel in military aid. So its not really that lop sided. I mean we consider Hamas a terrorist organization so why would the US want to give them money?


RE: Takin' the high road...
By JustTom on 3/14/2008 1:03:20 AM , Rating: 4
Casualty rates without context are meaningless; a nation justifiably responding to aggression has no moral imperative to lessen casualties of its enemies, a nation acting as an aggressor has no moral right to claim too many of its combatants are being killed.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 3:20:43 AM , Rating: 3
Ha? combatants? i think you're the one who needs to check on your 'context', don't you think?

Check on your facts and about who's dying from the arab's side before talking about morality or whatever!


RE: Takin' the high road...
By JustTom on 3/14/2008 10:44:14 AM , Rating: 3
I do have copious amounts of facts, do you wish to compare the percentage of combatant deaths to civilian deaths on each side?

Whatever your thoughts on whether Israel should have been imposed after WWII, and I think it was a gross historical and moral mistake, it is a simple fact Palestinian militias specifically target civilians while Israelis do not.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 12:48:35 PM , Rating: 2
So, all those civilians dying on the Palestinian side are ... casualities of war? or a side effect? or un-important to consider?


RE: Takin' the high road...
By JustTom on 3/14/2008 1:56:24 PM , Rating: 2
Of course civilian causalities are important and every side should strive to limit them. However, do you really see no difference in accidentally killing civilians during a military operation and specifically targeting them? Unless your implication is that Israel IS specifically targeting civilians in which case our world views are so disparate we have little chance of having a reasonable conversation on this topic.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By BZDTemp on 3/14/2008 4:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
It's easy to go for the high road when you sit in a comfy chair!

While I do not says it is okay that Israel are being fought with rockets "aimed"* at civilians or by suicide bombers I do understand why such measures are used. The case is one the one side there is a modern army which is even backed by the US and on the other side there is a people under siege fighting with whatever they can use. Pretty much the only chance of making Israel stop occupation is to make their war unbearable and fighting tanks, gunships and fighter planes is impossible with what is essentially home made fire works.

I can even understand the suicide bombers. Imagine your self living in a world with no future, with you family and all families around you fighting just to survive (and this is literally not just like some kid around here who can't survive without a car). In a situation like this I can see why someone pays the ultimate price in the vain little hope that the sacrifice may make a difference.

We need the UN to step in like they have done in so many places and was it not for the US vetoing that action again and again Israel and in fact the whole region would properly be a nice and peaceful place.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 5:07:12 PM , Rating: 4
Thank you very much for such a great reply. It's not biased, it's just a realistic view of the situation. I already said killing civilians is NOT justified in ANY situation. But, what could drive someone to such a desperate measure. I wish people would try to PUT themselves in others' shoes and try to view the situation from different points. But instead, people always look at it from what they've been driven by the media, or growing up, or their own beliefs.

I always try to look at it unbiased, but, i admit, it's hard, i most of the time just bash Israel, but them say to myself ... we're, as Arabs, doing huge mistakes and then blaming the world for not siding with us, or, with the right side anyway whether it's us or them. So, we should look in the mirror before blaming the world for their views. AND get this thing done for the SAKE of those innocent people getting grinded for no reason other than our own selfeshness.

Anyway, i have discussed this issue a LOT, that and Islam religion, and came to the conclusion (based on what i gathered from opinions) that people usually think in one way ... the media way. Simple example ... most of whom i talked to, think that Islam is a terrorist religion, or at least a war religion ... man, they couldn't have been more wrong. If they only BOTHERED to look deeper, or at least leave out all the fanatic views and go to the source and read the CONTEXT, they'll know the truth.

Thanks for all your opinions guys, see you in other articles.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 5:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
Forgot to add ... the word Islam means Peace in Arabic by the way, don't think a lot know that fact. Also, it means 'removing' harm off of anyone.

Correction in the previous post ... but them say to myself >>> but then say to myself.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By JustTom on 3/14/2008 6:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
The UN stepping in and doing anything successfully is unlikely in the extreme.
Going back to the original post: just because causality rates are unbalanced between two combatants implies no moral failing on the side that is killing more, what it implies is success at killing. The reasons for the killings are what determine its morality.
Nowhere did I suggest that I don’t understand why Palestinian militias use the tactics they do. I understand it fully, although it is somewhat more complex than you suggest. Part of the problem is the use of Israel as a bogey man among inept Muslim leaders. They can mask the failings of their rule by blaming everything on Israel and the West. The Palestinians after 60 years are still homeless living in refugee camps; why has no Arab government asked given them sanctuary? The answer is easy; it is the official policy of the Arab League not to allow Palestinians to be citizens of any Arab country.
I have stated elsewhere that I believe the post WWII establishment of Israel was a historical and moral mistake. However, it is unlikely that Israel is going anywhere anytime soon.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By BZDTemp on 3/14/2008 4:14:03 PM , Rating: 3
If the Israeli is not targeting civilians then what do you call taking away power, water, food and freedom of a whole nation?

Or if you want to just talk about the small scale then it is amazing how many times the Israeli army has killed children using their US made helicopter gunships!

More than any nation the Israeli people should know that putting people in camps are wrong but look what they are doing!


RE: Takin' the high road...
By nstott on 3/18/2008 11:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
Why is Israel responsible for the power, water, food, and freedom of the Gaza strip? Gaza has its own elected government, and it is that Hamas terrorist government that created the situation. What if Hamas quit firing rockets at civilian targets and put the same amount of energy into helping its civilian population? What if they built their own power plants to eliminate their dependence on the Israeli state that they attack? BTW, the Hamas government had a lot in reserve, so most of the loss of power was staged. There is a picture of them holding a meeting in candlelight after the loss of power. Close inspection shows that sunlight can be seen in back of the curtains covering the windows:

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2008/01/jour...


RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 3:28:24 AM , Rating: 3
That's summing up the situation in a few lines, thanks.

People rarely see what's 'really' happening. All i always hear is how Israel is so oppressed by the Arabs. Just cause the media shows repeatidly Israel is being attacked, doesn't mean they're sitting ducks taking hits. Why doesn't anyone ever think that 'maybe' they're the ones starting it all.

Finally ... as long as the Arabs aren't united anyone can do whatever they please with any single isolated party of them. And as long as the Palestinians are fighting amongst themselves on who should lead, or not care about authority amongst themselves, then i don't think we'll ever see any progress in that region! It's the fault of both ... Arabs and Israelis. And yes ... i'm an Arab Egyptian Muslim.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By NT78stonewobble on 3/14/2008 4:02:59 AM , Rating: 2
So youre gonna disarm hamas anytime soon?


RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 4:28:48 AM , Rating: 2
Are you going to disarm Israel anytime soon?

Before asking us to do something, you should do something first.

Mind you ... i do NOT approve of killing innocent people, but innocent is very subjective. In my book, agreeing to a country's policy is as guilty as if you took a weapon in hand and joined in the oppression. BUT, also ... in my book, that does NOT justify killing you over! In general, it's not so easy to judge and say ... this deserves to die, and that deserves to live, it is NOT our place to say that, only God is the judge in something like that.

That being said, i WISH Hamas would stop for say ... 6 months? and see what Israel would do. From what i've seen, their main point that they're hanging upon to not move the peace talks forward is the attacks on them, so i wish to see what other justification they'll come up with to halt the peace talks even more, even if we do everything they ask us to.

That being said, in my opinion, and i'm just talking about myself, i don't think we'll ever see this resolved by peace, i'm 99% certain it will end with war, if not WWIII even. Time will tell.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By NT78stonewobble on 3/14/2008 4:01:11 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps the palestinians should stop attackin israel then?

That is if they don't like the retalitory strikes.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 4:38:45 AM , Rating: 2
That's just not right. You're practically saying 'As Israel is big and mean, Palestinians should do as they demand and take a beating without saying a word or lifting an arm'.

If that's what every nation should do against their oppressors then no-one would have claimed their independence by now!


RE: Takin' the high road...
By Samus on 3/14/2008 4:08:22 AM , Rating: 1
But Isreali's are Jews and Palestinians aren't. So the death rate is unimportant, importance is. It's a pretty sick scenerio, but you have to think since WW2, the Jewish population has become an immesurably smaller minority than it used to be, even in this region.


RE: Takin' the high road...
By PrinceGaz on 3/16/2008 11:05:58 PM , Rating: 3
What? Every person's life is important, regardless of who they are. You can't say a particular group is more important than another for some arbitrary reason like race or religion, then use it to support the "more important" group using their more advanced military hardware to invade and occupy the land of surrounding countries.

Are we going to have a world-ranking of who is important and who isn't, then use that to determine which countries can freely use their armed-forces against others without retribution. If so, let's go back to the days where countries built empires by conquering others.

It's not like the Jewish population is in danger of extinction. As you say, it is only an immeasurably smaller minority in the region. They seem to be doing pretty well. Very well actually as they have recently decided to build more settlements in occupied territory. Land they have no right to use. Is it any wonder that some of the rightful owners of the land retaliate the best way they can (primitive random rocket attacks, and in extreme cases suicide bombers- it takes a lot to sacrifice yourself for a cause, I sure as hell wouldn't in any but the worst scenario). Meanwhile Israel respond with advanced jet-fighters bombing various targets (usually causing civilian casualties), and sending tanks rolling through territory they are not yet occupying and firing on anyone they think might be a threat.

It's about time that Israel started to obey international law, rather than ignoring countless UN resolutions against them because the US support Israel and that stops action being taken against them).


RE: Takin' the high road...
By nstott on 3/18/2008 11:20:39 PM , Rating: 2
Don't blame Israel for having a more effective military that achieves a higher kill ratio when it does occasionally retaliate for all of the unprovoked attacks. Yes, I agree that "Israel isn't quite so helpless after all." They could pretty much annihilate all of the Palestinians if they wanted to, which shows a lot of restraint on their part that the "push-Israel-into-the-sea" Palestinians would not be showing given the same power. The US does not and would not tolerate as much as Israel in these situations. Imagine the reaction to Mexico firing the same number of missiles at US border towns. How long do you think that would last?


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