An Israeli border policeman aims his weapon during clashes with Palestinians following a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, outside Ofer, an Israeli military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, July 18, 2014. Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza on Friday to destroy rocket launching sites and tunnels, firing volleys of tank shells and clashing with Palestinian fighters in a high-stakes ground offensive meant to weaken the enclave’s Hamas rulers. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
In Gaza, a 72-hour cease fire began early today. Israel says it has withdrawn its troops. Hamas says it will participate in talks to secure a lasting peace. It remains to be seen if the latest truce will hold.
Fighting in the Middle East is, unfortunately, not new. But how the fighting is taking place, and especially what kinds of weapons are used, is always changing. That's having a profound effect on the ground.
Avner Cohen, Senior Fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, discussed this aspect of weaponry with Take Two. Cohen mentioned the "basic" nature of the Hamas rockets, which are comprised of low-tech elements with generally short range.
On the use of artillery and its effect on civilians:
"Artillery is not very accurate, it covers an area. Inherently, if you use it in urban areas - and much of the Gaza Strip is an urban area - that's not going to be a discriminate weapon. At the same time, there are people who say, 'Look, with 28 days of fighting, the number 1,800 is relatively not a bad number. It could have been much, much larger. And it is true that the Israeli troops had strong guidance to do the minimum harm to civilians and try to be discriminant."
On whether he thinks the cease fire will hold:
"I hope so. I think all sides at the present time have good reasons to hold a truce. I think that Hamas is very much close to full exhaustion. The blows that they have absorbed are very, very serious. They lost hundreds of their soldiers, they may have used 60 percent or so of their rocket arsenal, they lost many of their top commanders, and I think very, very badly they needed the cease fire."