US military borrows “roof knocking” tactic from Israelis

A Coalition airstrike hits an ISIS compound. (Photo: USAF)

The United States has pulled a page out of the Israeli playbook when it comes to warning civilians that may be near a possible bombing target.

Known as “roof knocking”, the tactic involves airbursting a weapon above a selected target, providing a minute or more of time for people to get out before dropping a second munition.

The US used the tactic during an air action over Mosul, Iraq on April 5th. One woman who left the building inexplicably went back inside and was killed.

Coalition Deputy Commander Air Force Major General Peter Gersten said that the airstrike targeted an Islamic State financier’s home, as well as a cash cache for illicit money transfers. The United States had tracked the site prior to targeting, observing that a women and children regularly came and went from the domicile, which is believed to have contained about $150 million.

The Americans used the IDF tactic, airbursting a Hellfire missile above the building “so it wouldn’t destroy the building, simply knock on the roof to ensure that she and the children were out of the building,” he said.

“We’ve certainly watched and observed their procedure,” Gersten said of the Israeli Defense Forces. “As we formulated the way to get the civilians out of the house, this (technique) was brought forward from one of our experts.”

According to Reuters, the US-led coalition has now added “roof knocking” to its list of procedures and could employ the tactic in the future.

While the air campaign against the Islamic State has claimed only 41 civilian lives since 2014, the US Military finds it harder and harder to avoid civilian casualties as the Islamic State forces often gather or establish headquarters buildings in confined urban spaces.


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