Does Israel Have An Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb?

UPDATE 9 am Israel time Monday:

Another bizarre weekend has come to a close here in Southern Israel. Since early Friday morning, some 12 Palestinian Grad and Qassam missiles and two mortars have struck at the men, women, and children of communities near the Gaza border (“officially”, by the way, only 5 missiles were launched ). Seven people were injured badly enough to be hospitalized, but who knows how many others are suffering from incalculable emotional trauma? Who can forget the pictures from Netivot yesterday of the houses which were bombed and destroyed?

With apologies, this is the same picture from Netivot that was in this blog yesterday (source Haaretz). Your humble servant just cannot understand how the Israeli government allows its citizens to be bombed everyday. Would any other country in the world permit this to happen to its people?

In response to this onslaught, PM Netanyahu blathered his usual “I am entirely obligated to make clear to the terrorists that they cannot fire rockets at Israel with impunity.” And the IDF blathered its usual “we will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers.” And last night the IAF bombed its usual empty “weapons manufacturing facilities and smuggling tunnels.”

What is the IDF doing to actually stop the rocket fire? Absolutely nothing.

On the Gaza border this morning, the IDF (unbelievably) is processing Israeli goods and humanitarian supplies being sent to Hamas through the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza.  And this morning, while a real war is raging along the southern Gaza border, the IDF is launching a large exercise in the north “simulating war” with Hezbollah. 

You may remember how the IDF has refused to enter Gaza for over two years now–first, it was afraid of disturbing the Arab Spring, then it was afraid of fueling the Arab Spring in Egypt, then it was afraid of disrupting Egyptian elections, then it was sure that the rocket fire was simply Hamas members “letting off steam”, then it was sure it was not Hamas but Islamic Jihad, then it was simply afraid of the Egyptian reaction. The new excuse this morning is that there is no need to attack Hamas because the rockets falling on southern Israel are just part of ongoing struggle between Hamas and “more extreme Islamist factions.”  Ludicrously, Islamist, terrorist Hamas is now “the good guy.”

The simple fact is that citizens here in the South are now forced to spend their lives in or near bomb shelters because the IDF is afraid–and that is unbelievably pathetic.


For almost a year now, your humble servant has been blogging about the absurdity of Israel (or anyone else) bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.

One reason I have felt this way is because of scope and depth of the Iranian nuclear enterprise–dozens of nuclear facilities buried far underground in hardened bunkers. Even with the U.S.’s most sophisticated and devastating 30,000 pound bunker-busting MOP (Massive Ordinance Penetrator) bomb, these facilities would likely be impervious to aerial attack.

The other reason can be inferred from information in the UPDATE to today’s blog. Any attack on Iran would almost certainly bring about the firing of 170,000 to 200,000 rockets at Israel from Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. Whatever defenses Israel has in terms of the Arrow system and Iron Dome system would be almost instantly overloaded and depleted leaving the country wide open to attack.  And, if Israel cannot stop the continual rocket attacks from Gaza, how could it ever hope to cope with such an attack (except by “nuking” those firing the rockets)?

Suddenly in the past few days, however, there has been increasing talk that Israel has another devastating weapon in its arsenal–a weapon that would render it unnecessary to “bomb” Iran and a weapon that could render Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and even Gaza completely and immediately impotent.

That weapon is an electromagnetic pulse bomb (EMP).

How An EMP works when detonated in the air (source FAS)

Following atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s, it became clear that nuclear blasts (occurring at altitudes higher than 30 miles above sea level) generated “pulses” of gamma ray energy that could react with the Earth’s magnetic field and totally disrupt all electrical systems on the ground.

Everything in the path of the pulse would be “fried”: power grids, communications, transportation systems, emergency systems, and economic infrastructure facilities. Imagine a situation in which cars would not start, telephones would not operate, heating and air-conditioning systems would not work, food could not be shipped, hospitals would close when their back-up generators ran out of fuel–every electrical device from a computer to a refrigerator would simply turn off and never turn back on.

And of course, all nuclear facilities would fried in an instant–as would all rocket launching capabilities.

Last month, in an opinion article largely overlooked by the public in The Israel National NewsDr. Joseph Tuzara suggested that Israel may indeed have such a weapon that can be delivered by a Jericho III missile. An article in yesterday’s London Sunday Times picked up the story and quoted Uzi Rubin (who is one of the primary architects of Israel’s anti-missile Arrow system) as saying that while Israel’s use of such of device emanating from a nuclear bomb is “out of the question,” Israel may have developed “methods to operate EMP from the ground.”  Those methods might include the intense production of EMP from microwave arrays.

Does Israel really have an EMP?

While maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism, your humble servant certainly hopes so.  

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