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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Israel’s IDF Snipers: Choosing Who to Shoot

Stephen Shenfield
Mondoweiss

Snipers (sharpshooters) constitute about a quarter of all soldiers in the IDF’s combat units. The standard course for the training of snipers lasts five weeks. The best snipers, however, are Russian immigrants who fought in Chechnya. 

Snipers are organized in teams that form part of infantry battalions. Snipers are equipped with special rifles of various makes. Since 2010 the best rifle at their disposal has been the HTR 2000, which has a range of over 1,000 meters. Older makes have somewhat shorter ranges — several hundred meters.



The locator 

Each team of snipers contains a specialist called the locator, who plays a key role in choosing targets. On April 10 a former locator by the name of Nadav Weiman talked on Israeli television to Channel 10 about his experience in a sniper team of the Nahal Reconnaissance Platoon on the Gaza border. (He now works for the organization Breaking the Silence as head of its education department.)

Here is how Weiman describes his work as a locator:
“I would sit with binoculars and an electro-optic lens during the day and a thermal lens at night. I would identify a figure, see if he was armed, then I would measure the distance with a laser meter and check the wind with an electronic weather vane. Then I would give the snipers correction data and count down 3, 2, 1, fire!”
It is of interest to compare this account of the pre-firing procedure with that given on April 1 by Major General Haim Cohen, commander of the Shaked Battalion near the southern end of the Gaza Strip, on the Galatz military radio station. Cohen omits the technical detail provided by Weiman but emphasizes two steps that Weiman fails to mention: (1) obtaining authorization to fire from a commander; and (2) warning the targeted individual by means of a PA system. According to Cohen, there was a commander next to each sniper team and it was he who gave the order to fire. But Weiman says that when he was in the army it was he, the locator of the team, who gave the order. 

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