Photo Credit: Twitter screenshot
IDF forces exposed and neutralized this Hamas tunnel shaft in Gaza on Nov. 3, 2023.

In an optimistic scenario, writes Haaretz military analyst Amos Harel Wednesday morning, success in eradicating the Hamas underground city of tunnels may be the tie-breaking advantage Israel has been looking for.

It is gradually becoming clear to the IDF that everything its intelligence knew about the huge complex of defensive tunnels that had been dug by Hamas did not scratch the surface of the scope and sophistication of the project, which may be the largest of its kind in the world. It is estimated that the underground Hamas city comprises hundreds of square kilometers, 80 meters deep.


If we were wondering what the terrorist group was doing with the billions it was receiving from Qatar and many other sources – there’s your answer. And if your response is that had Hamas invested its money and ingenuity above ground it would have accomplished the dream of Gaza becoming Singapore of the Middle East, then you’ve gotten your first glimpse of the terrifying perversion that is Hamas and fundamentalist Islam.

Intelligence experts in Israel and the West today believe that the Hamas leadership and soldiers will be able to stay in their city of tunnels for many months unless Israeli ingenuity finds ways of cracking their resistance. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said last week that Israel had developed new technological capabilities to attack tunnels. Such a breakthrough would allow more extensive destruction of the tunnels, Hamas’s relative advantage underground would be lost, and it would be forced to fight the IDF under the familiar terms of a disjointed guerilla army versus one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in the world.

IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday that Israel’s combat engineering corps uses explosive devices to destroy the tunnels, and so far, destroyed more than 100 shafts. Now, it’s estimated that Gaza City and the entire northern Gaza area are riddled with thousands of tunnel shafts, which enable Hamas terrorists to peek above ground, fire at an IDF force, and duck back inside only to reappear through a different shaft nearby. And so, the task of taking out the shafts and the tunnels to which they are connected is truly Herculean – but not out of the IDF’s reach.

Reuters on Tuesday cited Israeli security sources who said the IDF is gathering more intelligence on the tunnel network without having to enter them. Captured Hamas terrorists and helpers have proven to be invaluable sources of information about the location of the tunnels and the shafts. The Shin Bet also gathers intelligence from Gaza City residents who are fleeing south protected by Israeli soldiers against the Hamas attempts to shoot them dead.

It’s important to note that many of the tunnels and shafts were dug directly underneath or adjacent to schools, hospitals, UN welfare agencies, and mosques. A shaft that was exposed Wednesday morning was directly under a children’s amusement park:

The IDF employs robots and sniffer dogs to locate tunnel entrances, and sends specialist commandos from the elite Yahalom unit of the combat engineering corps, in addition to bulldozers that demolish the civilian apartment buildings and other structures above the tunnels.

On November 4, the IDF posted this tweet about infantry and armored fighters of the 460th Brigade in the northern Gaza Strip operating in an area from which many attempts to attack IDF forces through tunnel shafts and military compounds had been detected. The forces eliminated terrorists operating in the area, uncovered tunnel shafts used for terrorist purposes, and located the organization’s weapons.

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