US adopts IDF ‘knock on roof’ tactic in fight against ISIS in Iraq

The United States’ military said that it had for the first time used a tactic deployed by the IDF to minimise civilian casualties in populated urban areas.

Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten of the US Air Force told reporters that the technique was used earlier this month in an operation targeting the ISIS stronghold of Mosul in Iraq. US intelligence tracked a key ISIS operative to a specific residential building thought to be used to store large amounts of cash. In order to warn residents of an imminent air strike, Gersten said that US forces adopted the so-called ‘knock on the roof’ tactic used by Israel in Gaza, in which a device is exploded above a target as a warning. He explained that a pilot “put a Hellfire (missile) on top of the building and air burst it… so it wouldn’t destroy the building, simply knock on the roof,” in order “to ensure that she [a woman spotted by reconnaissance] and the children were out of the building.”

Gersten said that unfortunately the woman in question ran back into the building and was killed. Nonetheless, the technique designed to save lives was taken from Israel’s Air Force. He said: “that is exactly where we took the procedure from,” and although Gersten said that the United States did not consult with Israel directly on the tactic, “we have watched and observed their procedure.”

Israel used a number of techniques to minimise civilian casualties during Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in summer 2014. In addition to the ‘knock on the roof,’ leaflets were also dropped by air to warn civilians of upcoming military activity. A subsequent investigation by the High Level Military Group, comprised of retired high-level generals and defence officials from Germany, Colombia, India, Spain, Australia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Italy, concluded that Israeli forces had gone beyond the demands of international law during the conflict to protect civilian lives.

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