Hamas tactics with the delayed invasion
The additional time they have got due to the delay in the ground assault allows them to plan better and improvise with the existing ground situation.
All the crucial needs for the Hamas fighters, such as water, fuel, intelligence, medicines, not to mention weapons and even reinforcements, are all coming easily through tunnels made on the Egyptian side of Gaza. This is irrespective of whether aid is allowed in or not.
What are the things they’ll need to focus on for extended survival?
The water in the underground tunnels must have been stored over many weeks. In addition to potable water at all the junctions of tunnels, rooms, and underground stores, there are going to be larger reservoirs from where water can be pumped out, or if perfect silence is needed, buckets can be used to extract water.
Almost for 6 months when all the training was in progress, the border posts were all open, and food, medicine, and fuel had to have been stockpiled, catering for the present situation. In fact, it would have been done all through Gaza. Now, when Israel intends to employ the salami tactic, i.e., initial action in the northern part of Gaza and then south, as we speak, without doubt, stores of every conceivable nature are being shifted to the north of Gaza in preparation for the siege.
Small and micro silent generators and their fuel stores would be available in plenty, all spread out strategically with at least some backup or redundancies provided. Rechargeable torches, phones, rechargeable lights will be available in every single tunnel, with a backup at every road junction and long passageways, initially set to motion-activated to enable cooking, medical care, communication, movement, and repair, or even manufacturing facilities to run unimpeded.
Communications are a given, all hidden in the deep underground tunnels. So they’ll use low-voltage handheld phones, like the old days, with wire connectivity and at least 2 or more different exchanges working almost in parallel. The exchanges would have been shifted to the safer south of Gaza. They will use Chinese phones such as the controversial Huawei Mate 60 Pro for some surface messaging through secure encrypted applications or even emails which the handlers will constantly monitor. They will be using ubiquitous handheld satellite communication sets for getting guidance from the leaders in Qatar, Iran, Hezbollah, etc. The recent launch (27 September 23) by Iran of an imaging satellite (so claimed) may have more functionality than openly acknowledged by Iran.
Ammunition and weapons:
Expect to see phenomenal increases in the employment of IEDs everywhere. With every break in fighting or bad weather, more IEDs will be deployed. The steady flow of ammunition and maybe even timers will be provided by various supporters.
They have made multiple nodes where injured will be taken for treatment. One will be close to the command post. The command post will be the most well-connected post and will be in the southern part of Gaza.
Hardening and strengthening:
Every communication, travel, or traffic system has some critical points (in this case where several tunnels meet or the tunnels from north to south). The physical strengthening and modifications for these hard points would be paid extra attention, especially with the population being asked to move southward, thereby leaving the northern part of Gaza virtually empty.
They would have catered for hardening their devices. The use of Faraday bags, cages, and RF shielding enclosures are simple solutions to protect against EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) damage. Hardening their devices may help in them surviving longer.
The present-day scenario with bombing every single day: the ground situation they face is extremely dynamic. The building that could have provided a vantage point today is destroyed. The original plan with a lot of redundancies would be needed.
– Small unobtrusive CCTV with cables at multiple angles and vantage points will enable Hamas to see and observe what’s happening outside their cave system. The cables will also provide a pathway to where the information is going too.
- snipers, even though Israeli soldiers are trained for Snipers, presence of snipers or remote controlled weapons are probably the commonest means of slowing down the regular army.
We had at the outset assumed that there do exist multiple tunnels under the walls on the Egyptian border. These must be in full flow with supplies, instructions, and intelligence coming in. Read more about tunnel warafare here>>> Perils of Tunnel Warfare
If not already happening then in due course of time Battle-hardened mercenaries will also be using those routes to enter Gaza from Egypt.
So, “while the population is suffering, the terrorists are set up for the long haul.”
Tactics Israel is adopting in a build-up to an attack:
Israel has almost immediately, after the attack, called up more than 300,000 reservists and activated its armed forces and police forces.
As per the Israeli policy, 17 is the age for most Israelis to join the IDF as part of conscription. The period is 24-36 months, and then they remain in reserve service till 49 years of age.
They get called back for recurrent training to stay abreast of all new developments and, of course, familiarity with weapons.
As of 2015, according to Wikipedia, the size of the regular army (active personnel) is roughly 165,000, and the reservists number some 465,000.
What’s the Israeli army doing in preparation for the ground assault on Gaza?
The entire city would have been divided into small grids. Coordinated air, artillery, drone, and missile strikes would be done. Adequate measures would certainly be in place to prevent civilian casualties in all this.
While all this is done, an immense amount of UAV reconnaissance would be carried out, monitoring the kind of movement by people on the ground, the quantum of movement on the ground. Especially post the warning till an actual strike. Also, pre and post a strike. Places where there was a substantial movement of military-age males would be observed, and intelligence gathered.
Hospitals will definitely be the main means of entering the vast tunnel network Hamas is claimed to possess. The visual observation of the hospitals will be especially complicated but nevertheless incessant.
All this while the reservists will practice day and night range firing, revise documents, medical and personal equipment, and protocols which the Israelis would have worked out in exceptional detail. Since they will face human shields in the form of Israeli hostages, children, and women. Unarmed combat, close-quarter battle, or combat would be practiced incessantly.
Most of the training is conducted in a small area where a mock-up built-up area called Little Gaza has been created in the Negev desert. This will expose all the troops to the narrow passages and tunnel systems and the actual environment they will face in the assault. This was constructed in 2006. They have a similar facility for Lebanon too. The Lebanon attack is going to be a different ball game.
Intelligence agencies would be on overdrive, human intelligence, electronic intelligence, all kinds would be sought out by every means. All cell phones would be monitored; their positions would be triangulated. The movement of all phones would be observed, more so in the northern part of Gaza.
The recent statement asking about the location of hostages by IDF is one very visible step in this direction to gain intelligence.
The rapid entry and exit, lasting some two nights, by IDF forces, including their Merkava tanks, would have been for many reasons, some of which were announced, and some that no one would talk about. These are expected to continue.
In short, what they might have done in these raids is:
- Leaving behind smart, hardened (EMP safe) communications equipment.
- Planting surveillance devices to possibly listen, also ones which measure ground vibrations and possibly monitor subterranean activity.
- Maybe even some operatives were left behind, including elements of Sayeret Matkal, the eyes and ears of Mossad and IDF. Subsequent raids might retrieve some operatives and even elements from Gaza with hard intelligence.
Every day, tens of US aircraft arrive in the cities of Tel Aviv and maybe Haifa and the other non-airfields in Israel. The weapons, ammunition, and equipment will be moved in quick time by air (if it can be done by choppers) or by road since the distances are small.
The persistent videos from Israel of troop movements and vehicle movements have all but stopped. This is the information blackout which has been implemented by the Israeli government and more so by the disciplined people under attack.
Israel is getting ready. IDF is impatient but grateful for every extra minute they get.