Military Review

Ruthless underground battle: Israel prepares for a tunnel war

Ruthless underground battle: Israel prepares for a tunnel war

Digging tunnels during a war is as old as war itself and often represents an act of recklessness on the part of a weaker opponent. In modern warfare, tunnels are becoming an asymmetric means of denying ground and aerial technology and the advantages of firepower. The state of Israel is engaged in a continuous and merciless fight against terrorists who lay underground tunnels.

During the Vietnam War, the Americans and their allies faced similar problems and, having no better solution, simply sent groups of "tunnel rats" under the ground to search for and destroy the enemy. In South Korea, along the thin demilitarized zone, Korean and American forces have for several decades been confronted by a huge North Korean army, which has in its arsenal the most complicated network of tunnels for conducting attacks under this zone. More recently, in Afghanistan and Iraq, coalition troops fought in a tunnel with an elusive adversary. Today it becomes clear that underground operations are returning to the tactics of military operations, especially in urban space, and the army, ignoring the tunnel battle, ignores it at its peril.

The Israelis understand this very well. The main problems are created by terrorists from the tiny Gaza Strip with a length of just 41 km and a width of 6-12 km. From there begins a complex network of military tunnels dug by the Sunni fundamentalist organization Hamas, which has ruled there since 2007. Israel and Hamas are in a state of permanent war, interspersed with rocket attacks, invasion of tunnels and full-scale hostilities. Hamas, founded in 1987, is the brainchild of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its military wing, the so-called Al-Qassam Brigade, sometimes operating independently of the Hamas government, has launched attacks on Israel since its inception. In response, Israel periodically conducts military operations in the Gaza Strip, among the last major conflicts are the operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009) and Operation Enduring Rock (July-August 2014).

The natural response of the Israelis to threats from Gaza was the construction of a wall along the entire border with this formation. The wall, in which five checkpoints are organized, has become a relatively effective means of deterring the bulk of Palestinian terrorist attacks. To overcome this barrier, terrorists began digging tunnels deep underground. The scale of the tunnel war in Israel is staggering.

Israel claims that Hamas spends millions of dollars on 100 a year and hires Palestinians to 1500, paying them from 250 to 400 dollars a month to dig tunnels into Israel. It is reported that Hamas confiscates up to 95% of cement produced in Gaza to strengthen these tunnels. Hamas has gained vast experience in building tunnels under Israeli fortifications. According to the lieutenant colonel of the Israeli army Peter Lerner, many of the tunnels “are equipped with electricity, communications, air filters and rails for transportation, they are quite spacious, they can easily stand an adult with small weapons, RPG and other equipment.

The elite unit of the Israeli army corps, which is charged with neutralizing underground threats, is called Yahalom (Hebrew diamond), its official name is “Special Forces Engineering Division”. In the journal of the Israeli army, Yahal is described as follows: “Although the task of the entire unit is to combat the tunnel threat, it is divided into specialized companies. The company "Yael" is engaged in engineering intelligence. Saifan has been trained to combat the threats of non-conventional weapons (weapons of mass destruction). Two more units are engaged in the disposal of explosive objects, and “Samur” specializes in tunnel warfare. ”

Based on 50’s experience of Operation Enduring Rock, which included the discovery and destruction of Hamas’s extensive tunnel network, the army doubled the number of officers and soldiers assigned to Yahal and added new military technologies to its arsenal. These technologies include: a specially adapted protective kit for each soldier; radio systems for working inside the tunnel; the latest night vision equipment; use of small robots; new secret technologies for detecting activity in the tunnel; and training systems for practicing tactics, methods and methods of warfare. We will focus on the last three: robots for work in tunnels, technology for detecting tunnels and, most importantly, advanced combat training.

The Israeli army employs many advanced technologies in the fight against the tunnel threat, including its small assistants - four-wheeled mobile robots

Robots for underground combat

The Israeli army is armed with a whole arsenal of robots, adapted for action in the tunnels. The most common are Eye Drive, EyeBall, TALON and ANDROS WOLVERINE. The Mistral Group ODF Optronics has developed two hand-cast, abandoned reconnaissance robots: the caterpillar EyeDrive and its smaller brother, the EyeBall, with a size and shape similar to a softball ball. The day / night cameras of these small robots provide an overview of the 360 °, video and audio information is transmitted wirelessly; they are transported, deployed and serviced by a single operator. The army also has larger devices, for example, the TALON IV robot was adopted by Yakhalom in the 2013 year for reconnaissance and neutralization of explosive objects. The ANDROS WOLVERINE system, developed by Northrop Grumman REMOTEC, also entered service with the Israeli army. This heavy universal robot weighing 73 kg can be used to neutralize improvised explosive devices. In addition, it is possible to install various weapons on it; in the dark tunnel he will move ahead, saving the soldiers from danger.

Hamas fighter from Al-Qassam brigade in a tunnel in Gaza. The tunnels of this group represent a strategic problem for Israel.

Tunnel Detection Technology

Detecting enemy tunnels through layers of soil and stones is a huge problem. The Hamas organization views its tunnel activity as a strategic weapon against Israel, actively digging tunnel systems at depths of 20-35 meters. In response, the Israeli army began to carry out what it calls "permanent underground security tasks." In order to conduct continuous underground activities effectively, the necessary means to improve the level of ownership of the situation in the underground space. In recent years, seismic technology has gone far ahead. Since the beginning of 2000, the Israeli army has tested several tunnel detection systems, but none of these systems have been able to penetrate the ground deep enough and therefore could not become a practical means of detecting the laying of the tunnel by the enemy.

Last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israeli scientists had made a breakthrough in tunnel detection technology. “In recent days, the state of Israel has achieved a breakthrough in its work on the localization of tunnels, which no country has achieved. We checked the whole world on this. ”

This tunnel detection system was created with US financial support and was developed by a consortium of companies led by Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It is reported to consist of hundreds of seismic sensors located underground and connected to an advanced computer system for monitoring tunnel activity. This technology can determine the length and location of tunnels with very high accuracy.

The Israeli anti-tunneling system is classified, but Israeli newspapers write that it will soon be deployed along the entire Gaza border with Israel. At the same time, Israeli engineering troops are digging a wide anti-tunneling barrier along the Gaza border, which will be laid deep under the ground in order to provide physical and technological protection against the construction of new tunnels. The search for a technology to solve the tunnel problem was difficult, but the Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli army said about this: "We did everything possible to find a technical solution to the problem."

An Israeli soldier peers into the black hole of a tunnel dug by Hamas militants into Israeli territory. Asymmetrical enemy uses tunnels for protection and shelter, as well as a safe means of attack

Enhanced preparation for tunnel combat

The slogan "Train as if you are fighting" lives the Israeli army. She recognized the need to prepare for a tunnel war and is building a new high-tech combined arms training base on the Golan Heights to prepare for combat operations in human settlements, which also includes an underground war preparation site. The Snir Training Center (named after the tributary of the Jordan River) will allow for the conduct of combat training of all Israeli units and the development of combined-arms operations both on land and underground. Similarly, the concept of the National Training Center of the American Army, the Israeli military will be able to conduct comprehensive training in the entire spectrum of hostilities, from labyrinths of tunnels to bilateral exercises and live firing underground.

The tunnel system under the Snir base will allow Yahal and other Israeli units to gain experience in real tunnel systems based on Hamas tunnels that were discovered and destroyed by Israelis in the 2014 war of the year. For training with combat shooting, there are "smart targets" representing both combatants and civilians. A special conditional enemy unit, or a “red group,” will be organized in the center of Snir, which will conduct training battles with the “blue” units of the Israeli army. For this purpose, the MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) multipurpose integrated laser target destruction system will be used to simulate the use of weapons. The Israeli military will train in the center's tunnels, learn how to discover tunnels, enter them, orient, mark their path, in general, improve their tactics for victory in an underground battle. The center will provide modern material and technical base for the training of elite, regular and reserve Israeli units. Underground training center Snir is currently working and will be fully ready by the end of 2017.

In its report on the performance of combat missions in the war in Gaza in 2014, the Israeli army acknowledged that it was not ready to fight in the tunnels. Preparing the army to detect, enter and neutralize a huge network of tunnels is a difficult task that the Israelis still have to solve. Since 2014, Hamas has announced that it is rebuilding and expanding its network of tunnels. This statement was a signal to Israel and forced the army to focus its efforts on fighting in the tunnels.

The technologies of underground war are a growing market with a multi-billion dollar turnover; more than 23 large companies are developing tunnel combat technologies. These technologies include robots, detection systems, communication systems, training systems, etc. The report of the National Security Research Corporation, published this year, said: “Future technologies of underground war will be based on: multimodal, multi-touch systems with the fusion of data for detecting secret tunnels and underground structures; conducting proactive underground warfare, in which the guided underground robots of the “discovered-killed” type will search, locate and destroy enemy's tunnels and underground structures. These promising developments will open a new era of the “Underground War”, in which the armed forces and law enforcement agencies will apply many constantly changing technologies and tactics. ”

Today, the Israeli army is facing ever-changing tactical challenges, responding to them with new technologies and in-depth combat training. She intends to show her adversaries that the cost-benefit ratio from further tunnel attacks will not be in their favor. Whether it will achieve this is not yet clear, but at the interim stage its activities will allow the military of other countries to pass on valuable experience that will help reduce their own losses and win a merciless underground war.

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  1. ivanovbg
    ivanovbg 16 October 2017 07: 26
    Incredibly interesting and useful article. The latest examples of large-scale "tunnel war", which I knew dosichpor, are mined undermining against fortresses and redoubts in the XVII-XIX centuries and of course Vietnam, and karezes in Afghanistan. Well and undermines against the "maple" on the border or thorn in the zone, but

    Hamas regards its tunnel activity as a strategic weapon against Israel, actively digging tunnel systems at a depth of 20-35 meters

    manually, and even for $ 250-400 per month per person ... go crazy! After all, this corresponds to the height of the 8-12 storey building !!!

    By the way, tunnels are extremely suitable for the use of chemical weapons.
    1. svp67
      svp67 16 October 2017 07: 42
      Quote: ivanovbg
      The latest examples of large-scale “tunnel warfare” that I knew dosihpor, these are mine undermines against fortresses and redoubts in the XVII-XIX centuries and of course Vietnam

      Weak knowledge of the issue of discussion. During the Russo-Japanese and World War I tunnel wars were very common. It became less vivid in World War II, and then only because of the commitment to Blitzkrieg's tactics and strategy, there simply did not always have time to dig such tunnels, but there were cases. And in the end, the transfer of German industry underground is not the development of a tunnel war.
      1. antivirus
        antivirus 16 October 2017 11: 48
        The chief of the General Staff of the Israeli army said on this occasion: "We have done everything possible to find a technical solution to the problem"

        -Difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel for several turns.
        Israel will never calmly breathe.
        under any governments around Israel, the hatred of the Arabs is centuries ahead.
    2. tasha
      tasha 16 October 2017 08: 39
      There will be a mood, watch the movie "Below Hill 60".
    3. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 16 October 2017 11: 32
      "manually, and even for $ 250-400 per month per person" ///

      No, not by hand. They buy compact earthmoving equipment.
      The breed in these places is soft. It is easy to dig, but it is necessary to strengthen with concrete.
      After all, the cement that the UN gives them for housing will fall into the tunnels laughing .
      Manually only carry out the breed in bags. And they try to do it secretly
      as tunnels are also detected by these actions.
      1. antivirus
        antivirus 16 October 2017 11: 52
        Is there a rural household in Gaza?
        where do dumps hide? -or in the sea? -to enter fertile soil should be left on top
        archaeological finds how to sell?
        who else uses ready-made specialists from Gaza?
        tunnel throughput?
        1. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 16 October 2017 12: 05
          "Is there a rural household in Gaza?" ///

          There is. Part of the greenhouses of the departed Jewish settlers they do not
          destroyed, and began to use.
          Well, there are some olives there.

          "tunnel throughput?" ///

          ABOUT! the largest tunnels were at Sinai to Egypt.
          For smuggling. Even cars drove along them belay .
          Then the Bedouin smugglers quarreled with Egypt
          and, co-evil, joined ISIS. Egypt began to wet them
          and filled the tunnels with sea water (Israel did not dare, so
          how does it saline groundwater - then they will die from thirst, and they will blame us)
          And Egypt - do not care.
        2. Professor
          Professor 16 October 2017 12: 34
          Quote: antivirus
          Is there a rural household in Gaza?

          It was while Israel "occupied" them. After the withdrawal of Tzahal from Gaza, the Fylystyns first destroyed the synagogues (known as UNESCO !!!), and secondly, all the greenhouses left by the Jews. But now Gaza eats Israeli fruits and vegetables.

          Look at the box labels in Gaza markets

          1. Ezhaak
            Ezhaak 16 October 2017 15: 50
            Quote: Professor
            After the withdrawal of Tsakhal from Gaza, the Fylystyns first destroyed the synagogues (well-known UNESCO !!!)

            Officials around the world predictably regret the decision of the United States (and also Israel) finally quit UNESCO (after six years of malicious and demonstrative non-payment of contributions).

            RIA Novosti
          2. padded jacket
            padded jacket 16 October 2017 17: 22
            Quote: Professor
            After the withdrawal of Tsakhal from Gaza, the Fylystyns first destroyed the synagogues (well-known UNESCO !!!)

            And why did you decide that your synagogues have some kind of cultural value and should be protected by UNESCO, they are an ordinary remake who has nothing to do with the cultural heritage of mankind.
            Quote: Professor
            Look at the box labels in Gaza markets

            And what is it about the boxes smile
            Quote: article
            Ruthless underground battle: Israel prepares for a tunnel war

            Hamas is digging Israel is fighting everything is going its own way.
            1. alexsipin
              alexsipin 21 October 2017 20: 04
              And why did you decide that your mosques have some kind of cultural value?
    4. Primoos
      Primoos 17 October 2017 22: 37
      Jews need not watch the tunnels, but establish relations with their neighbors. Around them, everything was already swollen with blood as a result of the zealous activity of Israel. It will end for the Jews sucks. There is no need to be tuned in.
  2. tchoni
    tchoni 16 October 2017 08: 09
    Interesting stuff. At one time, I had already heard about the edge of an attempt to adapt a side-scan radar with aperture synthesis function to search for underground shelters. It seems that the results were ...
    Another area was the analysis of the spectrum of optical radiation. The fact is that the vegetation above the underground structures is somewhat different from the surrounding. This is manifested in some spectra (in particular, in infrared).
    But, the system of seismic sensors is more serious. And, more precisely.
  3. XII Legion
    XII Legion 16 October 2017 08: 21
    Let them recall the experience of the First World War
  4. Professor
    Professor 16 October 2017 08: 21
    I put the author a plus, despite the fact that the article is clearly weak, the material is not disclosed, almost no data is given. And the topic is really very interesting.
    Here is the work of sappers in Gaza.
    1. KOMA
      KOMA 21 October 2017 17: 27
      Nothing demined, only undermining, only hardcore!
      1. Professor
        Professor 21 October 2017 18: 35
        Quote: KOMA
        Nothing demined, only undermining, only hardcore!

        Why risk your life? Mine the tunnels of terrorists and leave them clean tunnels?
  5. Firework
    Firework 16 October 2017 09: 53
    in my opinion this conflict will last until people end
  6. da Vinci
    da Vinci 16 October 2017 10: 01
    It is unfortunate that Iran still cannot reconcile with the fact of the existence of the state of Israel, and Israel does not want to fulfill the requirements of the UN. request
  7. MoJloT
    MoJloT 16 October 2017 10: 44
    Such people are needed in metro construction!
    1. Professor
      Professor 16 October 2017 11: 54
      Quote: MoJloT
      Such people are needed in metro construction!

      Sure? They, on average, once a week, collapse one tunnel with the victims.

      And Mosmetrostroy is building tunnels in Israel.
      1. MoJloT
        MoJloT 16 October 2017 13: 19
        Are you military ?
        1. Professor
          Professor 16 October 2017 18: 51
          Quote: MoJloT
          Are you military ?

          Sometimes. soldier
          1. MoJloT
            MoJloT 17 October 2017 11: 21
            Then I report, civilians joke sometimes!
  8. Kostadinov
    Kostadinov 16 October 2017 11: 14
    This tunnel detection system ... consists of hundreds of seismic sensors located underground and connected to an advanced computer system for monitoring tunnel activity. This technology can determine the length and location of tunnels with very high accuracy.

    Hundreds of sensors, advanced computer system, and so on. Something like missile defense and controlled fusion. “The breach has already been outlined” and “soon the system will be activated” and so for more than a dozen years.
  9. Eurodav
    Eurodav 16 October 2017 11: 38
    Quote: Salute
    in my opinion this conflict will last until people end

    Jews, did you mean?
  10. Eurodav
    Eurodav 16 October 2017 11: 41
    Quote: da Vinci
    It is unfortunate that Iran still cannot reconcile with the fact of the existence of the state of Israel, and Israel does not want to fulfill the requirements of the UN. request

    Which Iran should put up with? Maybe even the Palestinians ask 7-40 to dance? Tribunal for Israel, the dismantling of the state and repent through the desert!
    1. Lopatov
      Lopatov 16 October 2017 12: 21
      Quote: Evrodav
      Tribunal for Israel

      This is similar to the requirement of the tribunal for Moscow. For aggression against Germany in World War II.
    2. Beitar
      Beitar 16 October 2017 22: 11
      Quote: Evrodav
      Maybe even the Palestinians ask 7-40 to dance?

      Nafig, let them quietly return home to Arabia, at worst to Cairo and Amman. (The Egyptians and Jordanians will certainly be against)

      Self-education for you starts at 1:55.
  11. Tramp1812
    Tramp1812 16 October 2017 12: 47
    I am convinced that the latest unique Israeli developments in tunnel warfare, if necessary, will find their addressee in Iran.
  12. Livonetc
    Livonetc 16 October 2017 13: 50
    So all the same, how right?
    The article spelled out
    "Gaza Strip"
    Isn't it right
    Gaza Strip
  13. Curious
    Curious 16 October 2017 13: 55
    Books on tunnels in the Gaza Strip and tunnels can be written. They have this component, as they wrote in Soviet times, of the national economic complex, and this is substantial. Economic, so to speak, component. Especially given the parasitic nature of this "Gaza Strip."
    Moreover, they dig not only into Israel, they dig into Egypt.

    21-year-old Palestinian Emad al-Malalha in a tunnel with 17-year-old bride Manal Abu Shanar go to their wedding in the Gaza Strip. Egyptian authorities forbade the girl to cross the Palestinian-Egyptian border.
    Tunnels are a huge industry controlled by Hamas. In October 2013, a couple of kilometers long tunnel was discovered, the construction of which took 800 tons of concrete. Electricity, communication system were carried out in the tunnel, there were food supplies for months. The cost of building such a luxury tunnel was estimated at $ 10 million.
    According to some estimates, a meter of the basic simple tunnel from Gaza to Israel costs Hamas just $ 200. The average cost of building a more or less serious tunnel to Israel (not to Egypt) is about one million dollars. That's how the people of Palestine suffer. In the dungeons.
  14. LAWNER
    LAWNER 16 October 2017 18: 36
    If you don’t take into account who is fighting with whom, then the article is good.
    And the system that is classified is used by all archaeologists of the world).
  15. Doliva63
    Doliva63 16 October 2017 22: 14
    Return the land to the Arabs and there is no problem! It is disgusting to consider otherwise.
    1. alexsipin
      alexsipin 21 October 2017 20: 11
      Quote: Doliva63
      Return the land to the Arabs and there is no problem! It is disgusting to consider otherwise.

      Arabia so arab
  16. Black Colonel
    Black Colonel 17 October 2017 16: 01
    Our special forces also need to be prepared for such battles.