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In need of some expert opinions

Here is a link to a Getty image with the following information:

Tyre, LEBANON: Rockets fired from Israel are seen falling in the outskirts of the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre, 06 August 2006. Israel’s army will carry on fighting Hezbollah in southern Lebanon until two soldiers, whose capture sparked the conflict last month, are returned, its ambassador to Washington said today. AFP PHOTO/SAMUEL ARANDA (Photo credit should read SAMUEL ARANDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Copyright: 2006 AFP
By/Title: SAMUEL ARANDA/Stringer
Date Created: 6 Aug 2006 12:00 AM
City, State, Country: Tyre, -, Lebanon
Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Collection: AFP
Source: AFP
Date Submitted: 6 Aug 2006 10:44 AM

Take a look and tell me what you think and although I do not claim to be an ‘artillery expert’, my interpretation of what that image shows is outgoing rockets (i.e. Hezbollah firing at Israel) rather than incoming rockets (i.e. Israel firing on Tyre). My reasoning is as follows… firstly the rockets are burning, suggesting launch rather than impact, secondly the back-blast is visible slightly behind the location of what I take to be the launcher rather than an impact area.

Alternative explanation: the rockets were fired by an Israeli aircraft just out-of-shot (hence rockets are still burning) and are indeed incoming fire. The reason I doubt that is the rockets seem to be producing a large signature suggesting they are long range artillery rockets (i.e. Katyusha) rather than free flight aircraft rockets (which are much smaller, do not produce such impressive flames and whose rockets burn out very quickly)

Why am I interested? Because presumably the stringer, Samuel Aranda, saw this incident (i.e. could clearly see in which direction the rockets were flying) and presumably also created the caption. Is it in fact the truth?

I wrote to Getty images asking for clarification but have received no reply yet. If there are any artillery experts out there I would be keen to hear what they think. As I have said, I am not an expert on the subject but I am sure there must be some folks out there who can confirm either that the caption is most likely correct and I am mistaken, or my interpretation is the more plausible one.

Update 1: Take a look at this image of outgoing Katyusha rockets.

Update 2: Getty have corrected the caption and now admit it was outgoing Hezbollah fire.

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20 comments to In need of some expert opinions

  • The Dude

    The rocket paths in that picture are nearly identical to the ones on the photo hanging on my wall at homemy dad took of Patriot missiles being launched during the First Gulf War.

    The exhaust appears to be pointing in the wrong direction for those to be incoming missiles.

    I’d agree with your assessment.

    The Dude

  • Dale Amon

    I hope you kept a copy… the link is timing out for me so I am wondering if they have quietly pulled it?

    My take: long distance rockets will indeed only show smoke and flame on boost phase. They will then coast upwards on a parabola whose other leg is the target. The incoming probably do not give much warning or visibility… although I remember readin g that V2’s could be seen at night, glowing slightly from the re-entry heat. These rockets get nowhere near that high and would be no more visible incoming than a similar size artillery shell.

    Rockets launched from aircraft have a flatter trajectory I believe. I could not tell you how long they burn, but it could be a ‘considerable’ time. It’s a tradeoff between warhead size and standoff distance.

    I wish I could see the exhaust trail… if you have a copy, please post it.

  • The link still works for me, plus I do have a copy.

  • steves

    Not an expert by any means but these pictures seem identical to the ones broadcast by the media (including the Bagdad Broadcasting corporation) who are showing Hezbollah rockets leaving rather than landing.

    Also similar to www2 footage and since of land launched rockets at point of exit

  • Opposingreality

    Hey this looks exactly the same place (and date) as the pic you link to and it clearly states: “Rockets fired by Hezbollah guerrillas from an open area in Lebanon are seen in sky as they head towards Israel Sunday, August 6, 2006”



  • Jacob

    They are certainly outgoing rockets, here is why:

    1. Notice the smoke plume in straight line from the ground to the rocket. An incoming rocket has no smoke plume connecting it to the ground.

    2. Incoming missiles are too fast to snap. An outgoing rocket, in the first seconds of it’s acceleration is much, much slower.

    3. Katiusha rockets are fired in salvos. The first one of a salvo would alert you, so you can point the camera and catch the next ones.

    4. Having the right connections, maybe paying some bribes you could get advance notification about the firing of rockets, so you can be ready with your camera.

    5. Being on the incoming end of a rocket you usualy forget about the camera and duck for cover.

    6. I saw a similar (not identical) photo today in the paper (could not find it online), it it there were two rockets, in very similar settings, and the capture said: Hizbollah firing at Israel.

  • gudone

    i concur.
    same images as shown on SkyNews too.
    these are Hezb rockets, outgoing to Israel

  • Jacob

    Correct. The photo I saw was the one linked by “Opposingreality” (can we call you Oppy for short ?)

  • You don’t need to be an expert. You just need a comparison with other images of outgoing rockets and some common sense.

  • I doubt Aranda did the caption himself but sloppy work by Getty.

  • OpposingReality

    Heres another similar photo, looks the same place and same date as well.

    “Hizbollah missiles streak the sky as they are launched towards Israel from south Lebanon August 6, 2006. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl”


    Click on related photos, you should see the similar one, as there are several thumbnails of the pics on the right of the screen. Or maybe the link to the exact pic may work.


    BYW, id rather not be called “Oppy”, “O-R” would suffice, Jacob.

  • Wow what kind of fool labels that incoming? Its clearly outgoing.

  • guy herbert

    You just need a comparison with other images of outgoing rockets and some common sense.

    There are an awful lot of journalists and members of the public out there without sufficient physics for that to be common sense. Even the basic idea of a rocket – projectile one way, propellant the other – may be a difficult mystery, “rocket science” yet. And you thought the phrase referred to all the radionics, computing, chemistry, materials science, fluid dynamics, etc, and the fancy calculus holding it all together…

  • Jacob

    “Heres another similar photo, looks the same place and same date as well.”

    Seems there was some kind of press conference:
    “All the press is invited to the stadium in Tyre at 7pm. to witness the glorious Hizb preformance ‘Shooting the Zionist dogs’. Cameras welcome.”

  • lucklucky

    Sloppy Getty indeed. The first Getty image that Perry linked still has the old caption.

  • Getty’s original listing is still showing the original text claiming it is incoming fire.

  • ic

    Do you get paid for being Getty’s photo editor?

  • bago

    Having worked at Getty for a while, a contributor will upload a crapload of pics in a short time, often copy/pasting the desc in between individual shots. Has anyone gone to the editorial section, seen the entire upload sequence and the associated meta-data patterns?

  • often copy/pasting the desc in between individual shots

    That is a plausible explainantion.