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Date: Tue, 7 Jul 98 12:34:23 CDT
From: Mid-EasT RealitieS <MER@middleeast.org>
Subject: Computers for Repression and Death
Article: 38533
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.23025.19980708181535@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Smart missile scares Lebanon

By Robert Fisk, The Independent,
7 July 1998

Israel has introduced a new anti-personnel rocket into its guerrilla war in occupied southern Lebanon, a four-foot missile which can be guided over mountains, through valleys and round houses in its search for a target.

Code-named Spike, the new weapon has already been used at least twice in southern Lebanon - both times at night - and has been observed by soldiers of the United Nations' Finnish peacekeeping battalion.

An Amal militiaman was killed and three others wounded when the rocket sought them out near the village of Toulin earlier this year.

The missile appears to be guided to its target either by a control point on the rocket's fuselage - a remote-controlled television camera, for example - or by a line-of-sight controller positioned near the potential victim.

At Toulin, guerrilla sources suspect Israeli troops may have approached the village and remotely guided the weapon - fired from a neighbouring hilltop bunker - on to the guerrillas.

Its disadvantage, noticed by both Finnish UN personnel and by Amal, is that it makes a roaring sound as it approaches its target and emits a three-foot tongue of flame from the rear of the missile.

It was the sound of its engine that alerted the four Amal men, giving three of them time to throw themselves to the ground and avoid serious injury.

The Spike is believed to be made by the Israeli Raphael missile company, which at present has close technical and financial links with the US Lockheed aerodynamics company in Florida.

But the missile has not had a happy career. Weapons specialists believe it was an early model of the Spike - apparently intended to be used in an assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein or against the leader of the Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah - that exploded prematurely and killed five Israeli soldiers in the early 1990s. At the time, Israel would only say that five of its men had died in an explosion during a weapons experiment in a desert area.

In southern Lebanon, the Spike was seen climbing over a mountain, flying round the side of a ravine, swooping into a wadi and then turning to head for the village of Toulin.

If it was considered a suitable means of attacking the Iraqi leadership five years ago - when it would presumably have been handed over to American-backed Iraqi assassins - it would have to have been smuggled to Baghdad for use in the city.

Since this sounds more like the plot for a Hollywood film, it is more likely the weapon was intended for the Hizbollah leadership. Sayed Nasrallah's predecessor, Sayed Abbas Moussawi, was himself assassinated by an Israeli guided missile, fitted with a television camera, fired from a helicopter over southern Lebanon in February 1992, as he was returning to Beirut from the village of Jibchit.

While Israel has been trying to introduce new technology into its war inside southern Lebanon, the Hizbollah themselves have clearly acquired a considerable quantity of extra weapons in the past few weeks.

In last week's mass attack on positions run by Israeli occupation troops, it now transpires, the Hizbollah fired 83 Saggar wire-guided anti-tank missiles at artillery batteries belonging to Israeli occupation forces.

They were also seen using recoilless rifles - small artillery pieces fired from trucks - and 49mm Russian anti-aircraft guns fired with flat trajectories at Israeli positions. Both these weapons are old - but ferocious enough when fired over open sights at fixed positions in the hills of southern Lebanon.

Far more disturbing for the Israelis is the growing suspicion that the Hizbollah have also acquired a new, longer-range version of the Katyusha rocket, with a range of up to 50 miles. In theory, this would put Haifa in range of the guerrillas.

In reality, a longer-range rocket is more likely to be used not against Haifa but against Israeli troops inside southern Lebanon - fired from Beirut or its suburbs. This would geographically extend any future guerrilla war in Lebanon to embrace up to half the country.

A five-power monitoring group continues to meet to hear complaints from Lebanese and Israelis about breaches of the 1996 ceasefire in southern Lebanon.

The committee is to hear at least 11 complaints from both sides when it meets again later this week. Israel is complaining Hizbollah are now using 122mm artillery against them. Hizbollah's capture of an Israeli position last week demonstrated yet again how poorly Israel is able to defend its occupation zone inside Lebanon.