After pummeling the Gaza Strip with strikes that have gradually gained in strength, wreaking vast destruction upon the enclave and ratcheting up the civilian death toll, Israel began a sequence of ground incursions into Gaza where Hamas utilizes a network of underground tunnels beneath densely-populated areas.
Hamas militant group can use the massive rubble and devastation in Gaza wrought by relentless Israeli bombardment as a shell to protect its infrastructure hidden in underground tunnels.
The destruction caused by the IDF’s targeted strikes had transformed the rubble automatically into a protective shield of sorts.
However, this cover has both advantages and disadvantages, as it can block exits and entrances… can destroy, to some extent, the communication infrastructure of those underground passages.
But in general, of course, a pile of brick debris will offer a relatively reliable shell that will be hard to penetrate. After intense air strikes on Gaza following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) expanded ground operations, with additional invasive forces entering the pulverized enclave over the weekend.
Furthermore, Austin ostensibly pointed to the challenges of a ground invasion of Gaza, where Hamas has constructed a network of underground tunnels beneath populated areas.
The tunnels are three-tiered, said the expert, pointing out that the first level incorporates the communication passages that allow for movement of units, transfer of weapons and ammunition. You can even drive a jeep through there!
The second level accommodates workshops and factories for making Qassam missiles, went on the expert, while the third tier, somewhere at a depth of around 40-60 meters underground, conceals [Hamas] headquarters, which are protected by a concrete-reinforced cover. Even concrete-piercing bombs won’t penetrate that.
Andrey Koshkin, a retired colonel and expert of the Association of Military Political Scientists, weighed in on speculations that the debris from the air strikes on Gaza might present a problem for the IDF in a ground operation.
Israeli tanks had been seen on the outskirts of Gaza City, with the key road being cut off, media reported on Monday, citing eyewitnesses.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a televised address on Saturday night, telling the nation that the Israeli military had commenced the “second stage” of its war against Hamas militants in Gaza.
As for Israeli artillery and aviation, the debris is of no consequence, added the expert, stressing that the rubble was, in fact, the result of the work of artillery and aviation.
Wreckage might pose certain difficulties for the infantryman crossing the terrain, or for moving tanks, he said, but if a tank needs to get through, there is the appropriate special equipment, bulldozers.
In general, urban combat is the most difficult type, especially for armored vehicles, clarified the expert.
Even the much-touted Israeli Merkava tanks can be burnt, and we heard reports that Hamas destroyed two such tanks after their attack on October 7, while ostensibly seizing another five or six.
It is difficult to make maximum use of armored vehicles in the urban setting, said Koshkin. They will attack with aircraft, they will attack with artillery, they will shoot from tanks, they will burn everything they can burn before the infantrymen enter.
As for whether Israel will focus specifically on using long-range precision weapons when going after Hamas in Gaza, he reminded that this is a tactic the Americans had recommended, and the IDF will likely heed this advice.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.