The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is preparing an unprecedented ground operation in the Gaza Strip in response to the October 7 attacks by the Palestinian group Hamas, Reuters said citing eight sources in Israel, Western countries and the Middle East.
Israeli Defense Minister Gallant announced the imminent start of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip.
"Now you see Gaza from afar, soon you will see it from the inside,” the minister said during the meeting with military personnel near the borderю
For the time being, the IDF continues conducing its Swords of Iron Operation bombing the Hamas-controlled enclave. Having called up 360,000 reservists, the Israeli army is now preparing for the second phase of the operation that will be unparalleled in its brutality, Reuters said.
Israel's upcoming offensive will be much larger than all of its previous operations in Gaza. As Israeli officials then said, Israel was only weakening Hamas's military capabilities without destroying the movement. Israeli leaders have never vowed to exterminate Hamas once and for all, Reuters also noted.
The goal of the upcoming operation is to completely destroy infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, even at the cost of heavy casualties among the civilian population. According to Gaza's health ministry, Israeli strikes have already killed about 3,500 people and wounded about 12,000 more.
In the second phase of the operation, the Israeli military plans to push civilians back to the enclave's border with Egypt, then annihilate Hamas fighters and destroy the network of underground tunnels that the group used to attack Israel.
Hamas does have a whole network of underground tunnels. Israel will not be able to destroy those tunnels with the help of only tanks and rockets. In addition, the Islamist group's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, has also mobilised its resources and is actively preparing for an offensive planting anti-tank mines and explosive traps for Israeli soldiers in the enclave.
It is believed that the construction of the tunnels started in the early 2000s. At first they intended to use the tunnels for smuggling, but in 2006 Hamas realised that the system of tunnels could also be suitable for military purposes. They built a tunnel under the border between Gaza and Israel.
Hamas fighters use their tunnels to keep their supplies and ammunitions there. They can even launch missiles from tunnels.
Hamas tunnels are very reminiscent of the underground complexes that the soldiers of the Vietnamese People's Army were building in the jungle. The Gaza tunnels, however, were built with the use of reinforced concrete structures. There is electricity, food, water and beds for rest there. It is believed that the tunnels were built at depths of up to 30 meters.
Hamas has spent two decades to build the maze of underground defensive tunnels to be able to show resistance to any Israeli attack. Therefore, seining troops into Gaza will most likely entail heavy losses for Israel.
Camouflaged tunnel entrances are located everywhere in Gaza. Hamas fighters will plant bombs and mines in every street and alley. Storming the tunnels will be a difficult nut to crack for Israeli special forces, The National Interest said.
It is worthy of note that in 2021 the Israeli military said that they had destroyed almost 100 km of underground tunnels. Hamas representatives then responded by saying that Israel could only damage five percent of the tunnels, whereas the length of underground complexes in the Gaza Strip totalled nearly 500 kilometres.
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