When Israeli tanks invaded West Bank cities with their narrow streets and all, I would have thought they would have been vulnerable to Molotov coctails thrown from windows or rooftops; but this apparently never happened. Anyone know why?
I doubt whether a modern battle tank (I believe the israelis were the merkava) is vulnerable to a bottle full of petrol. The israelis were shocked recently when one of their tanks were disabled by a homemade palestinian mine
Tanks are very hard to kill, but history has shown that humans are pretty resourceful characters and, given half a chance, they’ll figure out a way to disable one.
Therefore, tanks rarely go into cities without significant infantry support as well. Usually, anyone who wants to get up close and personal with a tank is also going to have to get past a number of heavily armed soldiers.
Here is a BBC article from February 15 discussing the attack which destroyed the Israeli Merkava. The tank is very well protected on the top and sides, but armor on the underside is not quite as strong (though still considerable). This weakness is difficult to exploit. In the case listed, a massive mine was apparently planted. It was probably triggered by remote control, and was effective because the IDF’s actions and locations could be predicted.
As for the narrow streets, the problem was once that some streets were too narrow to permit passage of the tanks. Lots of buildings were demolished, I think during the first intifidah, in order to facilitate tank movement. Now there is still the risk of Palestinian fighters firing down from above. But as previously noted, you need a pretty substantial weapon to do much to the tanks.
I saw a TV interview with “The Engineer” who built the anti-tank mines. He showed one. It looked like welding gas cylinder but larger, maybe 4 feet tall and 16 inches in diameter.
Tanks are typically vulnerable to willey infantry who can out manuever the tanks. Its a lot like policeman trying to drive after a running man. Sure the car is faster and packs a lot of weight, but the running criminal can run into buildings, hide better, go into buildings, run up in terrain vehicles cant go. Infantry, if well armed, can harrass an armored unit to no extent. Thats why tanks are usually backed up my mechanized infantry.
I think with the Palestinians, they are probably not well equiped enough to effectively do anything to the infantry. Just a guess though. And plus I think they find it more effective to terrorize civilians with their limmited resources rather than try and take on the very very well armed/trained Israeli army.