U.S. used Israeli tactic to evacuate civilians before attack on ISIL

Special to WorldTribune.com

The United States took a page straight out of the Israeli playbook when it recently launched a “knock operation” to warn civilians of an impending airstrike on an Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) target.

The U.S. put the tactic to use during an April 5 strike on an ISIL financial storage center in Mosul, Iraq. U.S. intelligence had watched an ISIL “finance emir” and a women and children who frequently went in and out of the building.

In a scene from a Combined Joint Task Force video, an Islamic State headquarters and financial facility at Mosul, Iraq, is targeted seconds before its destruction in a coalition airstrike. /Combined Joint Task Force
In a scene from a Combined Joint Task Force video, an ISIL financial facility in Mosul is targeted seconds before its destruction in a coalition airstrike. /Combined Joint Task Force

“We went as far as actually to put a Hellfire on top of the building and air-burst it so it wouldn’t destroy the building, simply knock on the roof to ensure that she and the children were out of the building,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the anti-ISIL Operation Inherent Resolve, said at an April 26 press briefing. “And then we proceeded with our operations.”

Israeli forces have widely used the so-called knock-on-the-roof operations in Gaza attacks in recent years to try to get civilians out before they are hit. In some Israeli operations, phone calls have been made to houses about to be hit.

Israel is “exactly where we took the tactics and technique and procedure from,” Gersten said. “We’ve certainly watched and observed their procedure. As we formulated the way to get the civilians out of the house, this was brought forward from one of our experts.”

Gersten said the ISIL “finance emir” was “the major distributor of funds to Daesh fighters. We watched him come and go from his house, we watched his supplies, we watched the security that was involved in it. And we also watched occasionally a female and her children in and out of the quarters.”

Gersten said the U.S. used reconnaissance aircraft and other intelligence assets to keep watch on the facility and its occupants and formulated a plan to get women, children and other civilians out of the building, adding that leaflets were also dropped to warn of a pending attack.

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