The subterranean barrier that Israel is building along the Gaza border to thwart tunnels that infiltrate Israel will not completely eradicate the tunnel threat, said a senior Army Ground Force officer.
"The barrier is blocking very much the Hamas tunnels that are entering Israeli territory … but we can not deceive ourselves, it is understood today that there is no barrier that can not be breached, and we will continue to do so after construction The Israel Defense Forces Officer added comments on the assertions that have been heard by other senior IDF officials in recent months.
To really understand Israel and the Palestinians, subscribe to Haaretz
"Today, there is a whole world of underground tunnels in Gaza," says the senior ground forces officer, noting that Hamas is constantly upgrading. "This is not a tunnel, as we know, one with an entrance and an exit." Today there is a very large network of tunnels in Gaza, the entrances of which are in a house, factory, or public building that leads to different places. This is really a network of tunnels more like the subways in different countries around the world, "he added.
The IDF is well aware of the voices in the political ranks calling for a military operation in Gaza. But the IDF sees the need to close the tunnel barrier at this stage as more important than any military operation in Gaza.
Officers of the Southern Command of the Army believe that the IDF's invasion into the Gaza Strip, even if it is a limited operation, will bring new challenges. An IDF maneuver within Gaza is exactly what Hamas wants, according to IDF estimates. "Hamas recognizes that the barrier is a problem and is investing less resources in the construction of tunnels on Israeli territory today, but it is continuing to expand its tunnel network in Gaza, which Hamas will do anything to make the IDF face the next confrontation It understands that this is its advantage and they will continue to build tunnels in their territory, "the officer said.
"If the IDF has to maneuver in Gaza, the tunnel issue will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge for the armed forces," he said. "This does not require us to enter each tunnel, but the assessment is that there will be cases when it will be necessary to act inside the tunnels, and despite the difficulty we will know how to do that," he said Officer.
In recent years, the IDF has formed special forces, trained elite troops, and purchased underground combat equipment to address the threat of Gaza tunnels.
In recent months, the IDF has noted an increase in explosives near the border fence. The most recent incident occurred on Thursday morning when Israeli troops dismantled such a device. Since the ceasefire after the last combat round, the number of fire dragons and balloons sent from Gaza to Israel has fallen dramatically. But the IDF is concerned that Hamas has nonetheless recognized the potential of this weapon, which is cheap and effective and shakes the media and insecurity among civilians near the Gaza border. The army expects this weapon to be used by Hamas again in the future, in different ways if the rest in the region does not last.
According to the IDF, Hamas can use drones and model aircraft as flying bombs. Unlike the balloons and kites, the unmanned aerial vehicles are much more accurate and can find targets in Israeli cities or IDF forces near the border in a much more effective manner. "We continue to prepare for explosives on balloons and dragons, but for now these are simple means, but the assessment is that Hamas recognizes their potential," the officer said.
He also noted that in recent years, Hamas has significantly improved its explosives and bomb capabilities, including the quality of the explosives and the operating mechanisms of these devices. The evidence for this can be seen in two cases in which such devices exploded next to IDF soldiers. In the first incident, a powerful explosive device was placed on the pole of a Palestinian flag and detonated remotely, an explosion that injured four soldiers. The second incident occurred in May when an explosive device was planted in a border fence cutting device. Also in this case, the army was surprised by the force of the explosion.
"Last year, Hamas has the quality of the bombs and explosive devices that it has against the IDF forces along the [border] Fence, "said the senior officer." They have more sophisticated controls than in the past. If during the operation Cast Lead [in 2008 and 2009] Hamas & # 39; s devices were not detonated in real time against IDF soldiers and then during Operation Protective Edge [in 2014] it was a completely different story; The explosive devices that Hamas had prepared against the IDF forces exploded and were certainly better devices than what we knew before. Since then, we can say with certainty that they have improved even more. "