US employs Israeli tactic in ISIS fight to reduce civilian casualties


(JTA) — In fighting Islamic State combatants in Iraq, U.S. troops employed an Israeli tactic designed to reduce civilian casualties during bombardments.

U.S. troops used “roof knocking” this month in Mosul, but a woman was killed in the attack, Air Force Maj.-Gen. Peter Gersten, deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led coalition, said Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The tactic involves hitting buildings suspected as occupied by residents with a non-lethal projectile to warn civilians shortly before an incoming bombardment.

The Israeli military used roof knocks in the 2014 Gaza war on Hamas, but a United Nations commission found in 2015 that the tactic was not effective because it often caused confusion and did not give residents enough time to escape.

In the U.S. use of the tactic on April 5, one woman who initially did leave the targeted building but then ran back inside was killed, Gersten said in a news conference in which he spoke remotely over a video uplink to listeners, including journalists, at the Pentagon during a Defense Department briefing.

The building housed a member of Islamic State, or ISIS, in charge of distributing money to fighters, as well as being a cash storage site, he said. The United States believed the site contained about $150 million.

“We’ve certainly watched and observed their procedure,” Gersten said of the Israelis, while noting the U.S. military did not coordinate with the Israelis on the strike. “As we formulated the way to get the civilians out of the house, this [technique] was brought forward from one of our experts.”

The U.S.-led coalition could employ the technique again in the future, he said.

The U.S. military has acknowledged killing 41 civilians in its air campaign against ISIS, which began in 2014.

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