TEL AVIV — Israel's Defense Ministry is restocking supplies of locally produced, nonsensitive IM26 hand grenades, proven for the first time in last summer's Gaza war to withstand a direct hit by enemy fire without exploding.
Developed and patented by Israel Military Industries (IMI), the grenade is an upgraded version of standard #26 grenades that separates sensitive activating materials from less sensitive explosive materials, thus igniting only upon removal of the grenade's safety pin.
Used extensively by the Israel Defense Forces during last summer's Operation Protective Edge, the IM26 was credited with saving the life of at least one paratrooper who took an enemy bullet during maneuvers in southern Gaza. The bullet became lodged in the grenade that the paratrooper was carrying in the belt atop his protective vest, IMI executives said.
"Not only that, it most likely would have killed those operating around him at the time. It's a real lifesaver," Felder said.
IMI is producing tens of thousands of these grenades for the IDF and export customers.
The product is notionally named Eliraz in honor of Eliraz Peretz, an IDF major killed in an August 2010 counterterror operation when an enemy bullet ignited a grenade he was carrying in his vest.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.