Israel unveiled Sunday a laser-guided mortar system that it said could reduce civilian collateral damage, as the Jewish state faces an International Criminal Court investigation into possible war crimes.
The “Iron Sting” system, developed by the Israeli military with local firm Elbit Systems, will use laser and GPS technology to provide maximal accuracy to 120mm mortar rounds, the defence ministry said in a statement.
The system will “contend with enemies hidden within civilian, urban environments, while meeting the legal and moral standards set by the State of Israel”, Defence Minister Benny Gantz said in the statement.
The “Iron Sting”, which had been in development for years, had successfully been tested in southern Israel ahead of production and supply to the Israeli army, the ministry said.
“We believe that we have been able to develop an efficient solution that enables us to increase precision and reduce collateral damage,” Elbit’s land division manager Udi Vered said in the defence ministry statement.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after the ICC opened a formal probe into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, with the investigation focusing on the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip.
Around 2,250 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the fighting in the densely populated enclave.
Israel has fought three wars with Hamas since 2008 and sporadic rockets and other incendiary devices fired from Gaza still land inside the Jewish state.
Israel also periodically exchanges fire with neighbouring Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement — backed by arch-foe Iran — and targets “pro-Iranian” forces engaged in the conflict in Syria.