Katyushas: Going Once, Going Twice


How much would you pay for a few shards of twisted steel or some quarter-inch-diameter steel balls?

If the metal items are the remnants of Katyusha rockets fired at Israel in recent weeks, the going rate is at least $52 and $24.99, respectively. Those were the high bids offered, as of early this week, by potential customers on the Internet eBay.com auction site.

At least four Katyusha artifacts, apparently offered by Israelis, have appeared on eBay. Most were sets of the BB-sized steel pellets packed into the warhead of each Katyusha — 40,000 per missile, according to news reports — to increase the weapons’ killing power.

“Clearly, someone is interested in it,” eBay spokesman Catherine England says of the Katyusha memorabilia.

Ebay has received no complaints about the missile artifacts, but it may stop posting them, England told The Jewish Week. “Listings for missile shrapnel are not allowed on the site. While it may be legal in [the] U.S. and other countries to sell such items, eBay doesn’t want to enable individuals to profit from a current, ongoing military conflict.

“Additionally, eBay won’t allow these listings on the site out of respect for individuals and their families who may be directly or indirectly impacted by current military actions.”

As of Tuesday, at least two of the Katyusha items were still posted.Katyushas are the weapon of choice of Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, who have fired more than 2,000 of them into Israel since the current war on Israel’s northern border began three weeks ago.

“This is the remains of a spent Katyusha Rocket fired last week by Hezbollah terrorists into the Galilee. To one person it may be a piece of history,” the seller (online name “galileeglobettotter”) wrote in his eBay sales pitch about some alleged Katyusha shards. Another Israeli entrepreneur described his collection of seven Katyusha steel balls as items “which fell on my street 300 meters [about 300 yards] from my house.”

Interested buyers can ask questions online about the sales items.

“I would like ball bearings with blood on them,” one anonymous potential customers for the steel balls queried. “Do you have any??”

No answer from the seller was posted.

Such interest in macabre souvenirs is not necessarily sinister, says Steven Bayme, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Koppelman Institute on American Jewish-Israeli relations. “All sorts of bizarre objects are sold on eBay,” he says. “I don’t think it’s a fascination with anything anti-Jewish or anti-Israel.”