Hamas turns the streets of Gaza into a deadly labyrinth for Israeli troops

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By Dan Williams, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jonathan Saul

JERUSALEM/CAIRO (RockedBuzz through Reuters) – The Israeli military’s dying toll in Gaza is already virtually double that of its 2014 floor offensive, a testomony to how far it has gone into the enclave and the way successfully it has used of Hamas guerrilla ways and defensive motion. expanded arsenal.

Israeli navy consultants, an Israeli commander and a Hamas supply described how the Palestinian group used a giant arsenal of weapons, its information of the terrain and a huge community of tunnels to show Gaza’s streets into a deadly maze.

At their disposal they’ve weapons starting from drones outfitted with grenades to anti-tank weapons with highly effective twin prices.

The Israeli military stated on Sunday that 121 troopers have been killed since the floor marketing campaign started on October 27, when tanks and infantry started penetrating Gaza’s cities and refugee camps.

That compares with 66 in the 2014 battle, when Israel launched a extra restricted three-week floor incursion, however the purpose then was to not eradicate Hamas.

“You cannot compare the scale of this war to that of 2014, when our forces were mostly operating no more than a kilometer inside Gaza,” stated Yaacov Amidror, a retired Israeli main basic and former adviser for nationwide safety which is now housed at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

According to him, the military “has but to search out a good answer for the tunnels”, a community that has been vastly expanded over the previous decade.

The Israeli offensive was launched after an October 7 rampage by Hamas gunmen who Israel says killed 1,200 folks and took greater than 200 hostages, some of whom have now been freed.

Since the battle started, practically 19,000 folks have been killed in Gaza, prompting worldwide calls for a ceasefire and even calls from Israel’s staunch ally, the United States, for a change in technique and extra exact strikes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Thursday that Israel would wage battle “until absolute victory.” Israeli officers have stated it may take months for it to be accomplished.

“It was a challenge from day one,” Ophir Falk, Netanyahu’s international coverage adviser, advised RockedBuzz through Reuters, saying the offensive got here with a “huge price” in Israeli troopers.

“We know we will probably have to pay an additional price to complete the mission.”

HEAVY COMBAT

This month Hamas posted movies on its Telegram channel exhibiting fighters with bodycams transferring by means of buildings to fireplace shoulder-fired rockets at armored autos. One of them, launched on December 7, was from Shejaiya, east of Gaza City, an space the place either side reported heavy preventing.

In one other submit from December 5, a digicam emerges from a tunnel, like a periscope, to scan an Israeli camp the place troopers had been resting. The submit states that he was later hit by an underground explosion.

RockedBuzz through Reuters couldn’t confirm the movies.

A Hamas supply, who spoke to RockedBuzz through Reuters from inside Gaza on situation of anonymity, stated fighters moved as shut as attainable to launch ambushes “taking benefit of the land we all know like no different”, typically transferring or rising from tunnels.

“There is a huge discrepancy between our power and their power, let’s not fool ourselves,” he stated.

Hamas didn’t say what number of of its fighters had been killed. The Israeli military claimed to have killed not less than 7,000 folks. The group has beforehand rejected the Israeli determine, saying it contains civilians.

Hamas spokespeople exterior Gaza didn’t instantly reply to RockedBuzz through Reuters requests for remark for this text.

An Israeli commander, who fought in 2014, stated that the expanded scope of this operation meant there have been extra troops on the floor, giving Hamas “defender advantages,” so larger troop losses had been to be anticipated . He requested to stay nameless as a result of he’s a reservist lively on this battle.

The Israeli navy doesn’t launch the quantity of troops concerned or different operational particulars.

Israeli tv Channel 12 confirmed a military reservist unit, cautious of booby-trapped doorways, breaking by means of the wall of a constructing to enter a room and uncover an ammunition cache.

Mirroring ways utilized in 2014, the Israeli military posted pictures on social media exhibiting bulldozed paths by means of built-up areas so troops can keep away from present roads which will comprise mines.

Fierce preventing additionally continued in some districts in northern Gaza, the place many buildings had been diminished to rubble.

BUILDING STRENGTHS

“Hamas has made enormous strides in building its strength since 2014,” stated Eyal Pinko, a former senior Israeli intelligence official who now works at Bar Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

He stated some superior weapons, equivalent to the Russian-designed Kornet anti-tank missiles, had been smuggled in with the assist of Hamas’ ally Iran. But he stated Hamas has discovered to construct different weapons in Gaza, equivalent to RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades, and that the militants now have a bigger stockpile of ammunition.

Hamas posts stated the group’s armament included “tandem” anti-tank weapons with two armor-piercing prices, which Pinko stated had been in the militants’ arsenal.

Hamas movies typically present giant explosions when autos are hit. Israeli navy consultants stated the explosion didn’t imply the automobile was destroyed because it may even have been brought on by defensive programs exploding to cease incoming projectiles.

Ashraf Abouelhoul, editor-in-chief of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram who beforehand labored in Gaza and is a specialist on Palestinian affairs, stated the militants moved as shut as attainable to launch missiles and “domestically made projectiles.”

But he stated Israeli drones and different ways are eroding their capacity to shock, even in city areas. “The battle in the cities has develop into harder” for the militants, she stated.

The Israeli navy launched a video this month exhibiting militants rising from a tunnel beneath a bombed constructing, earlier than each had been hit by missiles.

“Hamas may publish its new weapons and tactics, (but) in principle, it remains a guerrilla resistance movement,” stated Alexander Grinberg, a former Israeli navy intelligence officer at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

(Reporting by Dan Williams, Samia Nakhoul and James Mackenzie in Jerusalem, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Cairo and Jonathan Saul in London; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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