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The Military Technology

Israelis Sue Government For Laser Cannons 736

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-all-want-a-laser-cannon dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Residents of a southern Israeli town want a real-life laser cannon to protect them against Palestinian rocket attacks. And they're suing the national government, for failing to provide the ray gun defense. The U.S.-Israeli Tactical High Energy Laser project was widely considered to be the most successful energy weapon ever built. But the toxic chemicals needed to generate THEL's megawatts of power made the thing a logistical nightmare. It was scrapped. Now, the residents of Sderot want it back. And they're taking Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to court to make it happen."
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Israelis Sue Government For Laser Cannons

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  • by Zordak (123132) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:00PM (#22735064) Homepage Journal
    If it was just a little scratch, some Bond-O and polish oughtta do the trick.
    • Now, don't get cocky...
    • by Malevolyn (776946) * <signedlongint@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:11AM (#22735944) Homepage
      Wait, wait, wait, whoa, whoa whoa... We can sue the government for laser defense weaponry? Where do I get in on the class action for this??
      • Re:It Was Scraped? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SEWilco (27983) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:41AM (#22736336) Journal
        Well, if you're in Israel you apparently can sue. In the USA the Second Amendment allows you to own your own laser cannon but the government is not required to buy one for you.
        • Re:It Was Scraped? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mpe (36238) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @06:04AM (#22737200)
          Well, if you're in Israel you apparently can sue. In the USA the Second Amendment allows you to own your own laser cannon but the government is not required to buy one for you.

          With the added irony that if the Israelis do deploy these it'll most likely be the US paying the bill.
    • Israelis sue government! Bring out! Dangerous weapon! They call. It. The short sentence. For effect. Profit. The. Win.
  • by StonedYoda47 (732257) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:00PM (#22735070)
    Did they sue for the sharks, tanks, and related expenses too? How else can they operate the lasers effectively? Lazer cats?
  • "scraped"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by plover (150551) * on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:00PM (#22735076) Homepage Journal

    It was scraped. Now, the residents of Sderot want it back.

    "Oy, for you, only the best lasers will do. You don't want this one, it's scraped. Let me get you one with a fresh paint job, good as new, I'll have my brother Manny bring it around Tuesday."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by superwiz (655733)
      Sderot is not Ashkenazi. Your Yiddishe Mama reference might be a bit misplaced there. It might also be part of the reason why Sderot residents believe that "the government just doesn't care". Israelis are developing the sentiment of viewing Ashkenazim almost with the same suspicion that Americans view white wasp males.
  • by Gumbercules!! (1158841) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:02PM (#22735092)
    Can we all please make an effort to keep the comments on track, and not diverge into a "Israelis/Jews are evil" fest?

    The residents of Sderot have every right to expect their government to protect them and if the government is refusing to take any preventative action, while over 7,000 rockets have fallen on the town, then suing the government seems a very reasonable action.

    Please note that they're not strapping bombs to themselves and running into cafes or government buildings - they're taking a legal action in a desperate request for help.

    To pre-empt the comments that will follow, it's not relevant to point out Israeli action in Gaza and get into a debate over whether it's justified or not - this topic is about residents of Sderot taking completely non-violent, legal action, over repeated aggressive and violent attacks from a neighbouring region.

    If only everyone in the region sought such a solution, instead of violence meets violence.
    • Necessity is the mother of invention. The Israeli's are smart, maybe this will spur them on to create their laser defensive weapon.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:16PM (#22735202)

      Please stay on topic
      Hi! Welcome to Slashdot. I see you're new here...
    • by jmv (93421) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:19PM (#22735236) Homepage
      Can we all please make an effort to keep the comments on track, and not diverge into a "Israelis/Jews are evil" fest?

      Instead, we should stick to the track of "Palestinians/Muslims are evil", right?

      over 7,000 rockets have fallen on the town, then suing the government seems a very reasonable action.

      So New York citizens should also sue over the WTC attacks?

      Sderot taking completely non-violent, legal action, over repeated aggressive and violent attacks from a neighbouring region.

      should probably read "over repeated aggressive and violent attacks from a neighbouring region, over repeated aggressive and violent attacks from its nation, over repeated aggressive and violent attacks from a neighbouring region, over ...".

      If only everyone in the region sought such a solution, instead of violence meets violence.

      Agreed. It's a circle of violence that is not restricted to one side, and the only way to break it is for one side to just stop. Unfortunately, the Palestinian side is probably too disorganised to commonly decide on anything. That means the only hope is for Israel to stop it, but I'm not too hopeful that will happen.
      • by Firethorn (177587) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:26PM (#22735300) Homepage Journal
        So New York citizens should also sue over the WTC attacks?

        They have. We also invaded at least one country because of it*. Do you suggest that Israel invade and take more territory to solve this problem?

        They're also not suing the Palestinians over this, instead are suing their own government for failing to provide a defense.

        It's a circle of violence that is not restricted to one side, and the only way to break it is for one side to just stop. Unfortunately, the Palestinian side is probably too disorganised to commonly decide on anything. That means the only hope is for Israel to stop it, but I'm not too hopeful that will happen.

        I have to agree, but I'll also point out that going by quite a bit of the propaganda on the Palestinian side says that there won't be any peace until all Israelites are 'pushed into the sea'.

        History in the area generally shows that any ceasing of aggression on Israel's part is seen more of a sign of impending victory, time to push forward even more.

        Maybe something like this laser system might push them to enough despair to actually give it up.

        *I figure Iraq wasn't caused by 9/11, but delayed by it. But I know some disagree.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          Maybe something like this laser system might push them to enough despair to actually give it up.

          Yeah, that's some keen insight into human psychology.
          When has that ever worked?
          Total despair means nothing left to lose and people with nothing left to lose make ideal suicide bombers.

          I have to agree, but I'll also point out that going by quite a bit of the propaganda on the Palestinian side says that there won't be any peace until all Israelites are 'pushed into the sea'.

          Is that quite a bit of palestinian propaganda, or quite a bit of right wing israeli propaganda making those claims about the palestinian propaganda?

        • 1) Abandon further settlement development. Right now, Abbas won't even negotiate with them because they are taking more land from Palestinains for settlements.

          2) Begin negotiating with Haniya. Like it or not, he is the fairly elected representative of the Palestinian Authority. The problem is that, as you point out, Hamas sees its goal as the destruction of Israel, but Haniya has shown that he is more moderate than that, and negotiation is the only way to change the propaganda. Note that good thing can g
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Instead, we should stick to the track of "Palestinians/Muslims are evil", right?

        No, we should stick to the topic at hand. I never once said anything about Palestinians/Muslims being evil, you just made the assumption that I must hate them, because I don't hate Jews. Is the world that black and white to you? You either hate Jews and love Palestinians or vice versa?

        So New York citizens should also sue over the WTC attacks?

        Sure, why not? Sue the Saudi government, if you can prove a link. Sue the US go
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by superwiz (655733)

          So New York citizens should also sue over the WTC attacks?

          Sure, why not? Sue the Saudi government, if you can prove a link. Sue the US government for not detecting it. Whatever - if someone has negligence, then so be it. If no one has negligence, then you don't sue.

          They did. I knew personally someone who was party to the suit. I am not sure what the current status of the suit is as I haven't spoken to the person in a few years. I do remember a nifty little detail about the suit though -- the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was represented by James Baker, III.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmv (93421)
      But the toxic chemicals needed to generate THEL's megawatts of power made the thing a logistical nightmare.

      Who wants to bet the chemicals would kill more people than the rockets?
      • by Kohath (38547) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:28AM (#22736034)
        Who wants to bet the chemicals would kill more people than the rockets?

        The people of the village of Sderot want to take that bet.

        Please pay attention.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          No, they will want the chemicals out of their backyard.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gordonjcp (186804)
        I'll have a piece of that. This sounds like typically short-sighted thinking.

        In fact, I'll go one further - how about this?

        When they have the laser, and the toxic chemicals, and people living near the laser start getting ill and having weirdly deformed babies (or whatever hideous consequence this will bring), they'll sue the Israeli government for making them ill by siting that bloody stupid laser near their homes.
    • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:47PM (#22735396)
      I should imagine that the fact that a larger town like Ashkelon has also been hit by rockets might result in this Laser project being revived. It should be noted that up until 1948 Ashkelon used to be called al-Majdal and was home to some 10,000 Arabs. Their homes were taken and they were ethnically cleansed and moved to Gaza. A few years later the name al-Majdal was also erased and it was renamed Ashkelon. Don't expect the news reports to tell you any of this stuff though.

      To pre-empt the comments that will follow, it's not relevant to point out Israeli action in Gaza and get into a debate over whether it's justified or not - this topic is about residents of Sderot taking completely non-violent, legal action, over repeated aggressive and violent attacks from a neighbouring region.


      Plenty of Palestinians think that non-violent methods such as protests are the best way forward as well. The problem is they often get beaten up or shot either with real or plastic bullets. In the recent crisis the IDF shot dead an unarmed 13 year old boy at a protest. A while back I watched a video of the IDF spokeswoman trying to explain why they had fired tank shells at unarmed protesters. She said they were just firing near to them to "warn them". Tanks shells for crowd control?

      It's good that the people of Sderot can use legal action. If they were Palestinians they would have far less options and that anger would find other more bloody ways of expressing itself. Indeed, if you go back to the 40s in Israel, you will find exactly that situation.
      • by The One and Only (691315) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @11:17PM (#22735600) Homepage

        It should be noted that up until 1948 Ashkelon used to be called al-Majdal and was home to some 10,000 Arabs. Their homes were taken and they were ethnically cleansed and moved to Gaza.

        They evacuated the country and collaborated with Egypt to exterminate their former neighbors. The Arabs who stayed in Israel rather than doing that became citizens and continue to hold full civil rights, as do their descendants.

        • by Kenrod (188428) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:27AM (#22736494)
          True, the few wealthy Palestinians fled (the landowners), hoping Arab armies would be able to defeat the approaching Israeli army, but most Palestinians lived in slums and only fled when the Israeli forces approached their cities or drove them out. Both sides engaged in atrocities (and even more propaganda). Of course, this had been going on for centuries but most people just talk about the bad stuff the OTHER side did.

          The Palestinian collaboration with Egypt in 1948 wasn't what pissed the Israelis off - it was the wider Arab collaboration with the Nazis during WWII. When WWII concluded and the Israelis were able to secure arms from Soviet sources (not to mention a huge influx of pissed off European Jews), it was payback time. The Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem was instrumental in banning the immigration of German Jews to the Palestinian Mandate during WWII, and so was directly responsible for the murder of thousands of German Jews during the Holocaust.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Swampash (1131503)
          Translation: "This is my land! Want proof? See here in this book, an invisible superhero who lives in the sky said so."
    • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @11:13PM (#22735580) Journal

      ...if the government is refusing to take any preventative action, while over 7,000 rockets have fallen on the town, then suing the government seems a very reasonable action


      Ok, so let me start by saying that I think suicide bombings and random rocket attacks on civilians are wrong, immoral, and inexcusable.

      Now that I've gotten the obligatory "I'm not a terrorist apologist" crap out of the way, let me say this:

      They should be suing to force their dumbshit government to start a serious peace process with the Palestinians and develop a working 2-state solution which provides security and prosperity for both peoples. The Israel's government's actions against the Palestinians - the harsh, collective punishment and indiscriminate killings - need to stop, and the Hamas government needs to be taken seriously and negotiated with.

      And before anybody comments that Hamas has pledged to destroy Israel and how you negotiate with someone that believes that, I say, big fucking deal. The Soviets pledged to bury the US, and spent the better part of 50 years pointing enough nuclear weaponry at the other half of the earth to wipe out humanity several times over. Still, there were talks, and attempts to reduce the hostility and bring peace about. You can and must deal with your enemies.

      Terrorism is a bad thing. But terrorism is just a tactic, and one that's used when the warfare situation is asymmetrical. The Israelis have a very modern, well equipped and well trained army, and they make extensive use of it in what they see as a battle to ensure their survival. The Palestinians have no military to speak of, and so it makes sense to them to resort to terrorist attacks in what they see as a battle to gain the right to self determination and freedom the control of Israel.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arthurpaliden (939626)
        Just a little history.In 1948 there were two states. Israel and Palistine. After the 1948 war Egypt grabed the Gaza strip and Jorden grabed and then annexed the West Bank. Later Egypt tried to make the Gaza strip and atonomas region but the Palastinian Arabs in the west bank torpedoed the attempt. Then a few years later the King of Jodan started negotiations with Israel and the Palastinian Arabs in the West Bank to create a Palistinian Arabe state there. In return for his efforts Arafat's organization
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387)

        They should be suing to force their dumbshit government to start a serious peace process with the Palestinians and develop a working 2-state solution which provides security and prosperity for both peoples. The Israel's government's actions against the Palestinians - the harsh, collective punishment and indiscriminate killings - need to stop, and the Hamas government needs to be taken seriously and negotiated with.

        It's easy to say this but hard you haven't pointed out a real solution. How exactly do you want them to negotiate?
        Should they concede to all the Hamas demands? Clearly that won't work since, as you've pointed out, Hamas won't stop demanding until Israel is gone. It takes TWO sides to negotiate, and both have to be wanting peace. Until Hamas is willing to compromise, what can Israel do?
        As I see it, there are a few strategies:

        • They can just sit and take all the punishment Hamas gives them, and refuse
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by $kr1p7_k177y (208396)
      Of that 7000, how many have have died because of them?

      A handful.

      Show me the threat.
  • Actually, it was scrapped becase the frickin goggles did nothing for the shark's remaining eye.
  • ...is it a viable country?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by causality (777677)
      USA spends several times more on defense than the second most heavily defended nation. Therefore: either your question is invalid, or it's more valid than what you had in mind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KiloByte (825081)

      If a country needs this much defense. . . ...is it a viable country?
      Do you mean, if a country has such vicious neighbours, is it a viable one?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        So, your neighbor blows up your garage and builds a condo on the land. You complain. He shoots your children in retaliation. You throw rocks at him. He kills your wife in retaliation. You fire a gun at his house. He flies a jet over your house and fires missiles into it. You invite members of the press to witness what's going on. He shoots them, not realizing he's being videotaped. He denies he did anything wrong. He calls you the vicious neighbor.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:27PM (#22735308) Journal
      Heh, yeah, and who exactly is going to make them leave? They are a viable country if for no other reason that no one can get rid of them. Maybe it was a mistake to create Israel, but that was a long time ago: get over it. (It was just as long ago that Cuba unfairly confiscated US property, and it is just as stupid that the US STILL has a trade embargo against Cuba). As for who the land 'rightly' belongs to, that is an argument going back thousands of years, and is frankly irrelevant with Israel and their big weapons sitting right there; they are not going anywhere. If you want to be respected in a conversation about foreign affairs, you're going to have to deal with that fact.

      A few points:
      • There are Arabs living happily in Israel. The Druze are happy Israeli citizens, and the Bedouin are generally friendly with Israelis.
      • Even the Arabs living in Israel who AREN'T happy with Israel would rather live in Israel than in Palastine (West Bank/Gaza).
      • The Palastinian refugees living in Arab countries (like Lebanon) are treated much worse by the Arabs than those in Palastine are by the Jews.
      It's true perhaps that Israel goes a little overboard in their responses to people attacking them, however, they do have at least one neighbor who has sworn explicitly to destroy them, so it is kind of understandable.
      • by Plutonite (999141) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:31AM (#22736312)
        I hate to participate in an off-topic discussion, but Israel's treatment of its Arab population (a highly debatable topic with a profound history btw) would be contrary to its own purpose if it is as you say. The whole idea was to establish a "Jewish" nation, so by definition the creation of the state was a very racist mistake indeed. The Arabs living "happily" in Israel are no measure in number to the others whose land is being stolen daily to new settlements being built on it, and who are being mercilessly massacred with their families if they attempt to fight back, where the settlement building is a daily series of facts being created and not something that happened a "long time ago". There are people losing, as we speak, the land that belonged to them for centuries because they do not happen to belong to a particular race. Lasers will not change how utterly disgusting that is, or the those people's efforts to fight back in whatever desperate way they can.

        For the record: I do not condone attacks on civilians by either side, and am as disgusted at the Arab militants as I am at the Israelis. It's just that you're making it sound like Arabs are welcome to live in Israel, whereas this is obviously not true "by definition". Indeed, that's what the whole right-of-return issue with the Palestinian Arabs is all about.
  • Precision... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lixee (863589) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:10PM (#22735146)
    The town in question is Sderot, where most inhabitants are of North African (especially Moroccan) origins. Those tend to be not so hell-bent on Zionism as European Jews because they weren't persecuted as much. I like to think that the government of a country founded on Zionism and so proud of it, would be slightly biased towards the inhabitants of Sderot.

    Also, has anyone of you ever seen the damage katyushas make? Calling those things rockets or spending money to intercept them is ludicrous.
    • Re:Precision... (Score:4, Informative)

      by wwwgregcom (313240) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:16PM (#22735198) Journal
      I've personally seen an impact site. They cause very little damage to structures. It's the flesh tearing shrapnel that'll get ya if it happens to land near people.
    • I don't know. I wouldn't like 30 pounds of explosives landing in my backyard, or my city.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrSteveSD (801820)
      I really think Ashkelon (or al-Majdal before the 10,000 Arabs were ethnically cleansed in 1948) is a bigger issue. The population is a lot bigger (108,300 vs 19,800).

      Also, has anyone of you ever seen the damage katyushas make? Calling those things rockets or spending money to intercept them is ludicrous.

      They are pretty pathetic in terms of damage. However, their military value is in their psychological impact, and to a certain extent, economic impact (with everyone running to shelters several times a day). Hamas' thinking is that they will be able to use the rockets in response to future IDF attacks as a form of deterrent. It's a danger

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:11PM (#22735158) Homepage

    Toxic chemicals? Don't they know that it's possible to synthesize excited bromide in an argon matrix. Yes, its an excimer, frozen in its excited state.

    It's a chemical laser but in solid, not gaseous, form. Put simply, in deference to you, Slashdot, it's like lasing a stick of dynamite. As soon as we apply a field we couple to a state, it is radiatively coupled to the ground state.

    I figure we can extract at least 10 to the 21st photons per cubic centimeter which will give one kilojoule per cubic centimeter at 600 nanometers, or, one megajoule per liter.

  • So how well did it actually do against the obsolete bargain basement Iranian missiles used in the recent war in Lebanon? I remember a fanfare before the war, lots of wild claims, hand waving and "don't you worry about that" as a response to any question. Then there was absolute silence when there was a perfect chance for live tests.

    Does it actually work or does it only operate in the sort of tests that Mr Geller did to get his government funding?

    Now it looks like a setup for "we could have saved you if it

    • by Martin Blank (154261) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:52PM (#22735436) Journal
      It's never been deployed, primarily for the logistical reasons mentioned. However, it's been extremely effective in tests, shooting down simultaneous salvos of artillery and even mortar shells fired in exercises. Katyusha rockets are even easier to hit.

      The issue is range: THEL is effective only out to a few kilometers, and ideally a target would be destroyed over the launch territory. To protect a town of any decent size, several of these would have to be deployed, possibly within heavy rifle range of Palestinian buildings, and production costs could be several million dollars each. I'd still be interested to see the effects, particularly if Israel basically could deploy enough to cover the border with the Gaza Strip and then simply stop targeting the launch sites, which would reduce the number of incursions into Palestinian territory, and start moving the PR tide back the other way.
  • I have some sharks for sale.
  • by karoberts (742374) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:35PM (#22735346)
    For about a year on the mobile version that was supposed to go on a series of containers on trucks. The cost was going into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and so the army cut the program. One reason was that insurgents in iraq weren't using mortars very often anymore, so there wasn't much use for such a system.

    A few months later, hezbollah in Lebanon started firing katyushas again, oh well.

    It was the most awesome project I've worked on so far. I actually got to see it take out mortars in flight on monitors while sitting in command and control 5 km away. (The system in new mexico doesn't have very good output scrubbers, so to avoid NF3 poisoning, humans have to be 5km away while it is firing.)

    There's also more problems with it than just chemicals. For instance, the glass window in the front that the beam exits from costs 1 million dollars and takes a year to make (got to withstand a vacuum and a very powerful laser).

    And the biggest problem is, they overwhelm it by sending lots of rockets, and then send several directly at the device itself. One rocket gets through, and there goes years of work and millions of dollars.

    Anyway, thought the slashdot crowd might find some of that interesting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nimey (114278)
      What was the rate of fire on that thing?

      and then send several directly at the device itself.
      By all accounts, these rockets are rather inaccurate. I get the impression that their CEP is several hundred feet.
  • by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:50PM (#22735414) Homepage Journal
    The U.S. has a system that works pretty well in this kind of situation: The Phalanx CIWS, or the C-RAM system (very similar).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-RAM [wikipedia.org]

    I won't say anything about its specifics, but I can tell you that it DOES work. It IS loud and you WILL crap your pants every time it goes off without warning, but that's a small price to pay for a WORKING product that shoots mortars and rockets out of the sky. This would be the perfect solution to their problem and frankly I'm surprised that I haven't heard more about it. Ah, I just answered my own question from my wiki link- it looks like they are in fact looking into these. Good for them.

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1196847389509&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter [jpost.com]

    I don't know what the retail is on these things, but I'm sure we could squeeze a few into the multi-billion-dollar defense support that we give to Israel every year.

    -b
  • I wonder (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:59PM (#22735492) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if a lower tech weapon system wouldn't do. Something like a grid of Phalanx point defense systems. They can shoot down mortar rounds so the low tech stuff the Palestinian are firing should be even easier to hit:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsnhyTiTqk4 [youtube.com]

    A little more digging with Google indicates the system has already been fielded for that purpose. Just set up a perimeter and be careful about where the misses come down.

    Cheers,
    Dave

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