Meet “Parasite”, a new and deadly addition to Israel’s military arsenal of war against Palestinian terrorists.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report that the world’s first smell- and heat-guided missile came into its own in Israel’s three-week Operation Defensive Shield, launched on March 29 to break up terrorist strongholds in seven Palestinian West Bank towns.
“Parasite” is designed to seek and destroy large quantities of explosives, with two versions for operation in open ground and densely populated urban landscapes, such as Palestinian refugee camps.
The missile’s specifications are classified, but DEBKA-Net-Weekly has learned it can be launched from a wide variety of platforms, including Israel-manufactured Merkava (Chariot) tanks and armored vehicles. Mounted on launch pads that swivel 360 degrees, it can also be released from trucks or front line firebases.
The weapon delivers the goods even before taking to the air. Capable of sniffing out minute quantities of explosives more than a kilometer (half-mile) away, it is especially effective for locating large explosive devices, artillery shell stockpiles, missile batteries and ammunition trucks. This location is flashed to a computer monitor, whose operator registers the type of explosive and its size and decides how to take it out – by “Parasite”, or ground or air strike.
After firing, “Parasite” keeps on transmitting data on the target up until the moment of impact, using its sense of smell to stick close to a moving target and to follow it round sharp turns.
“Parasite” destroys underground explosives dumps by striking the ground or concrete surface; aimed at a convoy, it homes in on the vehicle containing the largest quantity of explosives and sets off a chain reaction.
The missile first showed its paces in late January and early February this year, after Palestinian fighters and Iranian-trained Hizballah experts succeeded in destroying two top of the line Merkava-3 tanks in the Gaza Strip, using charges of more than 100 kilos (212 lb). “Parasite” was sent very discreetly into action. When the same Palestinian-Hizballah demolition cells tried blowing up more tanks and other targets, the new missile was waiting. It knocked out the explosive devices and their operators on their way to target. Neither the Israeli army nor the Palestinians have ever mentioned the new weapon and its inroads on the Palestinians’ resort to explosives as their primary weapon of terror.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources reveal that “Parasite” killed eight out of 14 huge charges the Palestinians and Hizballah laid; the first two were the destroyed tanks; four more were duds. Two of the crews were blown up with their burdens. At that point, “Parasite” chalked up a success rate of more than 70 percent.
The new projectile put in its first full-dress appearance in the ferocious battles in Jenin. On April 9, 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in the refugee camp, where mines and large explosive charges planted in booby-trapped houses turned a narrow alleyway into a death trap. That same evening, the IDF set several “Parasite” missile systems to hunt down Palestinian bombs and blow them up.
In similar terrain in the Nablus Casbah, the missile again proved its effectiveness. The elite paratroop and Golani units that fought a tough 10-day campaign in the crowded souk availed themselves of the new missile to take control of the site and avoid the heavy casualty toll sustained in Jenin.