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One of the most pressing threats faced by the IDF in recent years is the network of cross-border attack tunnels from Gaza. Advances in anti-tunnel technology have provided the Israeli military with new means of heading off such attacks, said an Israeli military official who spoke on the sidelines of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington.
The official who heads the underground-warfare section of the Israeli military’s technological unit said the new methods for detecting and destroying extensive, often sophisticated, underground spaces had resulted in the elimination of at least three tunnels since October 2017.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, added that the new methods are the culmination of three to four years of investment, including funding from the U.S. government and work by Israeli military and defense firms including Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. “It’s not that we stopped [the problem] and everything’s fine. But we have a good plan,” he said.
He suggested that the technology was based on techniques used by extractive industries, which sometimes employ seismic or sound waves to prospect for minerals or fossil fuels. “When we started working on this we wanted to see what was being done in the world,” he said. “Oil and gas use a lot of seismic technologies, and we definitely wanted to learn from them.” He said the soil around Gaza is extremely varied, making it more difficult for detection technology to distinguish between concrete or open space associated with tunnels, and naturally occurring clay or sand. Looking for tunnels is basically a task of finding “the right anomaly,” he said.
According to the washingtonpost.com, the official declined to give details of what he described as advances in technologies used to destroy tunnels once they have been detected. He said the Israeli military is now able to detonate tunnels in certain instances with minimal damage to surface structures or activities. He denied reports in Arab media that accused Israel of using gas against people inside Gaza tunnels. “What we’re doing is building an arsenal of tools that is varied to be able to fight off our enemy in any way they choose,” he said.
The Israeli government is also constructing a massive underground barrier to block tunnels.
It is the cooperation among the branches of combat engineering, intelligence, and the technological lab for tunnel detection in the Gaza Division that creates the technological breakthroughs and significant achievements in underground detection,” said Commander of the Southern Brigade in the Gaza Division, Col. Kobi Heler, according to idf.il.
It is estimated that Hamas has invested over $150 million in its tunnel building activities, while also endangering the many Gazans who engage in this dangerous work.