By Prof. Valery Kirzhner

In order to make it possible for the Europeans to imagine clearly the situation of bomb attacks in Sderot, journalists often suggest different hypothetical models of bombing European capitals by criminal gangs. In contrast to these, below we consider a realistic historical event of German V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks against London during the Second World War.

Geography. The area of London was about 300 square kilometers, the population being 9 million people.

Technology. Two types of rockets were launched against London – V-1 (flying bomb) and V-2 (ballistic missile). They had similar warheads, containing 700-900 kg of Amatol – a highly explosive material made from a mixture of TNT (trinitrotoluene) and ammonium nitrate (a commonly-used fertilizer).

Rocket Attacks

V-1 Attacks. By 29 March, 1945, 10,000 V-1 rockets had been launched against the Great Britain. Out of 3,200 rockets which landed within the boarders of the country, 2419 reached London. According to Wikipedia, the total damage in London amounted to 6,184 civilians killed and 17,981 injured.

V-2 Attacks. According to different sources, about 2,000 rockets targeted at London during seven months caused an estimated 2,700 civilians killed with another 6,500 injured. This amounts to 1-2 people killed per one V-2 rocket.

Since the explosive potential of the rockets of both types was almost the same, the above statistical data can be summarized. We obtain that the total number of the rockets launched against the Great Britain was 12,000; 4,500 rockets reached London; 9,000 civilians were killed and 24,000 were injured.

Military Effectiveness

The Minister of Arms of the Third Reich, Albert Speer wrote in his memoirs, “An absurd enterprise. In 1944, during the period of several months, armadas of enemy bombers (allies, ed.) dropped an average of 300 tons of bombs a day, while Hitler could have brought down upon England three dozen missiles per day, with a total capacity of 24 tones, which is the equivalent bomb load of just a dozen of “Flying Fortresses”.

Moral Effect

The moral effect of the missile attacks turned out to be most significant. Winston Churchill wrote later, “This new form of attack laid on London’s inhabitants a burden which was, perhaps, even more heavy than the air raids of 1940 and 1941. The state of uncertainty and tension grew longer. Neither day, nor cloudiness brought any relief. A man never knew what he would see at home when he returned there in the evening. A wife, who had stayed for the whole day alone or with the children, was not sure that her husband would return home safe and sound. The blind force of the missile filled the man on earth with the sense of helplessness.”

For the British, the rocket attack against London is still an example of the horrors of the last (for them) war and the crimes of fascism against humanity.

Sderot and Surrounding Areas

Statistics. Before the beginning of bomb attacks, the population of Sderot was about 23,000, while now it is around 17,000. Taking into account the surrounding areas which are also subject to bombing, we can suppose that the population is about 30,000.

Against the territory inhabited by these people, about 4,000 “kassam” rockets of various modifications and another 7,000 mortar shells were launched during the period of 7 years. The warheads of the “kassam” rockets contained from 1 to 10 kg of Amatol, the same explosive as in the case of V-1 or V-2. Thus the total number of rockets targeted at Sderot has amounted to 1,100; 17 people have been killed and 400 injured.

Are These Figures Big or Small?

Maybe the Israelis in the bombed area shouldn’t be so nervous? Perhaps they are wrong spending their lives in bomb shelters? After all, a brick (or a piece of pipe) can fall on anyone’s head; however, this is not a reason to wear a helmet all the time (or live in bomb shelters).

Let us try to compare the figures – to what extent a “kassam” can be compared to a brick or V-1 or 2.

London’s population was 9×106, while that of Sderot and the surrounding area is 3×104; with 9,000 people having been killed in London, it follows from a simple proportion that 30 people should have been killed in the area of “big Sderot”. Actually, “only” 17 people were killed, but if the figure of 9,000 killed in London is considered as large, then the figure of 17 killed in Sderot should also be seen as large.

Furthermore, if 24,000 people were injured in London, the corresponding figure for Sderot, according to the rule of proportionality, should have been 89. However, we have, actually, 5 times as many injured. Apparently, this reflects the technical nature of the damage caused by the rockets from Gaza. If German V-rockets had had similar characteristics of damage, there would have been 120,000 injured in London.

Any attempts to perform the above calculations using some other figures, which the author is, perhaps, unaware of, won’t change the general idea of the result obtained – the losses that the British incurred due to V-rocket attacks are of the same order of magnitude as the losses that the Israelis incurred due to bombing from Gaza.

It can be concluded that the “kassam” is neither a brick nor a piece of pipe. This weapon is proportionally equal to the V-rockets. Hence it is clear that the Israelis’ reaction to the bombing should be much the same as the reaction of the British, described with such great talent by Sir Winston Churchill, the Nobel prizewinner for literature in 1953.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the IDF military operation in Gaza was, in a way, consonant with the British government’s reaction – heavy bombing of Germany, which took away an absolutely disproportionate number of German lives.

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