JERUSALEM — Israel has concluded that Hamas, aided by Iran and Syria, was perfecting underground warfare using tunneling technology developed by North Korea.
A report by a leading Israeli think tank asserted that Hamas was employing a doctrine developed by Iran with North Korean assistance in its latest war with Israel.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs said Hamas and its Palestinian militia allies were using tunnels for offensive operations, rocket fire, arms storage as well as command and control.
“The attack tunnels create a new equation in the power balance between Israel and Hamas,” the report, titled “Hamas Attack Tunnels: Analysis and Initial Implications,” said.
“They give Hamas an ability to infiltrate Israel and carry out strategic attacks involving mass killing, along with an ability to launch missiles from locations concealed within civilian population centers that serve, in effect, as human shields.”
Israeli analyst Jonathan Halevi, a senior intelligence officer, said Hamas did not require a massive tunnel network to harm Israel. He said as few as 20 tunnel would enable Hamas to send 1,000 fighters into the Jewish state, where they could attack nearby civilian communities.
“The tunnels would allow Hamas to wreak havoc if they are left in place,” the report, dated July 23, said.
The report said then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi enabled Hamas to greatly enhance its military in 2012 and 2013. Missiles and munitions were said to have moved through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the tunnel network to the Gaza Strip. The report said Hamas received components to “construct plants and manufacture missiles.”
“Hizbullah’s tactics, learned from Iran, have been replicated in Gaza, particularly the use of the tunnels to provide breathing space in waging the military campaign,” the report said. “The Hamas-Hizbullah-Iranian aim is to cause as much harm as possible to the civilian population and weaken Israel by damaging its economy. Like Hizbullah, Hamas in the current round has tried to strike strategic targets in Israel and inflict mass casualties, including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion International Airport.”
Hamas began tunnel warfare in 2006 with an attack on an Israel Army base in which several soldiers were killed and another was abducted. Halevy said Hamas was guided by Iran and Hizbullah to construct a tunnel network as well as a combat doctrine that could overcome Israeli superiority.
“Tunnel warfare provided armies facing a technologically superior adversary with an effective means for countering its air superiority,” the report said. “For example, a tunnel is opened only briefly to launch rockets and then immediately closed to prevent detection of the launchers’ location by the IDF. The concealment of these launchers in tunnels, in the heart of the civilian population, makes it very difficult to detect them in real time and attack them.”