TEL AVIV (Nov. 14)
The Israel Defense Force has unveiled its latest weapon against the intifada — a 66-pound “gravel gun” designed to fight stones with stones.
The lightweight cannon mounted on a jeep, which can spew egg-size stones at a rate of 600 per minute at a range of about 250 feet, was demonstrated this week for IDF and police officers, who apparently were favorably impressed.
Defense Minister Moshe Arens ordered the new riot-control weapon into immediate use.
The projectiles emerge from a cone-shaped muzzle in a scattershot pattern, ideal for dispersing large crowds. According to some officers who watched the demonstration, its very presence should be enough to deter riots.
Because the cannon can be mounted on a jeep, it is accessible to the narrow streets and alleys of towns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. An earlier model mounted on a half-track did not have such mobility.
The designers claim their high-tech, non-penetrating stones are no more lethal than stones hurled by hand but admittedly need to be used with caution to prevent serious injuries.
The “gravel gun” could eventually replace live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas as the favored riot-control weapon.
Bullets need pinpoint targets and tear gas often blows back on the security forces who fire it.
The only mystery about the new weapon is why it took two years of bureaucratic delays before the Defense Ministry approved its use.
The gravel gun arsenal presently consists of 60 guns.