Hezbollah’s Katyusha rockets, which it has fired from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, do not just explode with ordnance designed to level military buildings or demolish artillery batteries. Many of those Iranian- and Syrian-supplied missiles have warheads filled with ball bearings. Hezbollah uses them to shred Israelis’ flesh and bones.
Since Hezbollah began slamming Israel last month, independent photojournalist Lenny Maschkowski has documented the devastation that these steel balls do once they erupt from exploded Katyusha rockets. His images appear here and on other websites, including Dutchblog Israel, and have circulated by e-mail among friends of Israel. These photos vividly illustrate Hezbollah’s viciousness and its crazed, gleeful desire to heap total carnage upon unarmed Israeli civilians within their workplaces, playgrounds, and homes.“I couldn’t talk earlier because I was in a bomb shelter,” Maschkowski tells me by phone this morning. He says he first saw the ball-bearing damage on July 16 or 17, when Haifa sustained its first rocket onslaughts.
“It’s amazing how far these little ball bearings go,” says the 44-year-old Israeli native. “They have a deadly radius of around 600 meters [some 1,950 feet].”
About a block away from one blast, he continues, he came upon a wall. “I saw ball bearings lodged in the concrete,” he says. “Another one easily went from one side of a car right through to the other side. This was a French-made car with thick metal. That was 150 meters [roughly 485 feet] away from where the rocket blew up. This ball bearing had the power of a powerful bullet
After discussions with doctors on the scene, Human Rights Watch said in a July 18 statement: “Ball bearings have increased the number and seriousness of injuries from rocket fire.” “If you wanted to bring down a building, you would make a weapon with a heavier blast,” Dr. Eran Tal-Or, Surgical Emergency Room director at Haifa’s Ramban Hospital, told Human Rights Watch. “You wouldn’t bother with the balls inside that don’t do much harm to buildings, just to people.”
“There were three loud booms and I started running out of the depot,” said Alek Vensbaum, 61, an Israeli Train Authority employee who was struck in a July 16 attack on Haifa’s main railroad station. “The fourth boom got me when I was nearly at the door, and I was hit by shrapnel…I was hit by ball bearing-like pieces of metal in my neck, hand, stomach, and foot.”
Railway electrician Sami Raz said a ball bearing entered his lung and just missed his heart. “I had terrible difficulty breathing after I was hit,” he told the Manhattan-based human rights group.
Ball bearings may have had something to do with the deaths of eight other train workers killed in that one Hezbollah attack. It also injured 12 more, four seriously.
“Deliberately attacking civilians is in all circumstances prohibited and a war crime,” declared Human Rights Watch’s July 18 communiqué.
While Israel has apologized for the deaths of Lebanese civilians in this conflict, they died either through error or because, in violation of the Geneva Convention, non-uniformed Hezbollah fighters willfully hide among unarmed non-combatants. Hezbollah cleverly uses them as human shields and propaganda props. Human shields deter attacks. And if they are hit, Hezbollah publicists wheel in often-gullible and sometimes-sympathetic Western journalists to videotape images of “Zionist atrocities.”
Israel, in fact, drops leaflets on civilian areas warning unarmed citizens to flee before bombs fall. After they believe targets are clear of civilians, Israeli forces open fire. While the Israeli military has made deadly mistakes, it at least tries to do the right thing.
Conversely, Hezbollah has lobbed more than 3,000 rockets into Israel. They lack sophisticated guidance systems, so the terrorist group has little idea where they will land, other than in Israel. And the only warning Hezbollah offers civilians is the sound the rockets make as they race toward the ground.
“We try to make as few human injuries as possible,” Maschkowski says. “That’s exactly the opposite of what our enemy is doing.” He explains that Hezbollah has “hit hospitals, old age homes, schools, a synagogue, and private residences” in Israel. He adds that in one Haifa church, a Katyusha fell just behind a statue of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus of Nazareth. Her wings fell off, but she stayed standing. “They call it a miracle,” Maschkowski says.
“I think that this common enemy that we have — in their demonstrations, they always put Israel and the U.S. at the same level — this enemy should be seen in the same way as al Qaeda,” Lenny Maschkowski says. “Hezbollah is the enemy of all free, westernized democracies in the whole world. Today it’s Israel. Tomorrow it’s the United States, Great Britain, and Spain.”
— Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Arlington, Va.