Israel forces face hand-to-hand combat with Hamas militants in 40ft deep Gaza tunnels

Israel is on the cusp of an armed military incursion into the Gaza Strip to battle Hamas militants who recently launched a series of surprise attacks against it, killing hundreds of civilians, a media report said.

London: Israel is on the cusp of an armed military incursion into the Gaza Strip to battle Hamas militants who recently launched a series of surprise attacks against it, killing hundreds of civilians, a media report said.

But although Israel’s Defence Forces are well-trained, well-equipped and outnumber their Hamas foes considerably, the hellish battlefield that awaits them in Gaza could cause huge casualties, Daily Mail reported.

The Palestinian Islamist fighters operate in a complex network of reinforced tunnels, some of which are buried up to 40ft underground and all of which could conceal an ambush, be booby-trapped – or worse – filled with explosives and primed to cave in, the report said.

This means Israel can bomb Gaza all it likes and launch bunker-busting munitions to clear out some tunnels – but the IDF would still need to deploy hundreds of thousands of troops to sweep through the ‘Gaza Metro’ and neutralise every last Hamas fighter if it is to wipe the organisation out completely.

Hamas in 2011 said they had constructed more than 300 miles of tunnel systems and although analysts suspected that figure was inflated, the group is sure to have dramatically expanded the network since then.

Now, military experts and analysts have shared their concern at the huge losses Israel’s forces could incur if they’re forced to take the fight to Hamas in the Islamists’ own backyard, the media outlet reported.

Leading military and defence analyst and RUSI Associate Fellow Sam Cranny Evans said Israeli forces are in for a particularly bloody fight, likening the potential conflict to scenes from the most bitter urban fighting amid the Iraq war.

He warned the Hamas fighters would likely mine the tunnels and deploy improvised explosive devices IEDs to cripple IDF troops tasked with clearing out the rat run, the report added.

He also said the above-ground battles would be just as bloody, with Hamas able to hide throughout civilian buildings to force Israeli army units into bitter close-quarter urban conflict.

Also Read: Aid Trucks Line Up On Egyptian Border Waiting For Access To Gaza

(IANS)

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