I’ve been paying close attention to the war in Israel and Gaza; watching a lot of footage. Came across some video of Palestinians — probably late teens/early 20s — throwing stones at vehicles in a chaotic protest on a road. This was, I believe, on Saturday, and it wasn’t clear to me whether the footage was real time or from recent protests.
Suddenly, one of the most active stone-throwers pulled up his right leg, his face knotted in a grimace of pain, and he began to hop away on his good leg. His comrades abandoned their pile of rocks and helped him down an incline and out of the frame.
I knew immediately what had happened: The stone-thrower had taken a .22lr round to the ankle or shin.
“Medics in the Gaza Strip have reported treating an influx of protesters who appear to have been deliberately targeted in the ankle by Israeli forces in recent unrest at the volatile boundary of the blockaded Palestinian enclave. At least one person has been killed and dozens more wounded since demonstrations by groups of young men, some of them throwing stones and molotov cocktails, began in mid-September.”
The Guardian being The Guardian, this was presented as a new cruelty inflicted by the Occupation on oppressed Palestinians.
Human rights groups say that such targeting procedures are unlawful as they allow the use of potentially lethal force with no immediate threat to soldiers’ lives.
They did get one paragraph of “balance” into the piece:
In a statement, the IDF said: “Over the past few weeks, the Hamas terror organisation has organised violent riots along the border fence, for purposes of harming Israeli security forces … It should be noted that the IDF resorts to live fire only after exhausting all available options, and only as necessary to handle imminent threat.”
For years, the IDF has been deploying integrally suppressed .22 caliber Ruger 10/22 carbines, originally as a “less lethal” option for riot control. They are also used as a “hush puppy” to take out dogs and lights in raid operations. Because Israel actually adheres to rules of engagement and laws of combat, the Israeli Judge Advocate General tested the effect of fire from the .22lr and reclassified it as a lethal weapon, which restricts its use.
But clearly, it was in the field in the weeks preceding the explosion of violence in Hamas’ Operation Al Aqsa Flood.
The use of a .22 in a sniper role at limited range, especially in urban environments makes a lot of sense. It’s comparatively quiet even unsuppressed, making it difficult for an enemy to determine where fire is coming from. Suppressed, it’s pretty close to silent; only the sonic crack of the bullet is heard. If your target is higher than the ankles, a .22 can be plenty lethal. Ask any emergency room doc.
Chechens deployed .22 snipers against Russian troops in urban combat in the 1990s, using makeshift suppressors made from plastic bottles — a technique depicted in the movie Shooter, based off of Stephen Hunter’s classic thriller Point of Impact. They were taking head shots.
The Russians took heed, and developed a purpose-built .22 sniper rifle, the Kalashnikov SV99:
The .22 LR SV-99 sniper rifle was developed as a precision small-caliber weapon for special forces snipers to silently engage enemy personnel and other targets at ranges up to 100 meters, as well as for training purposes.
For their part, the IDF now has an updated and upgraded Ruger to work with (seen in the top photo):
Countless threads on gun forums have flogged the topic to death and beyond, but it bears keeping in mind that the .22 is more than just a plinker.