From the New York Times - JERUSALEM — Israel entered its latest conflict with Hamas armed with a high-tech arsenal, real-time battlefield intelligence and strong domestic support for dealing a heavy blow to Hamas.
But again on Friday, Israeli forces were taken by surprise, this time with two soldiers killed and one taken prisoner when militants once again attacked from a tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel.
As frustration grows in Israel over the military’s inability to neutralize Hamas, the militant Islamic group that governs Gaza, despite hitting 4,300 targets in 24 days of intense bombing, some military experts say it is increasingly evident that the Israel Defense Forces have been operating from an old playbook and are not fully prepared for a more sophisticated, battle-ready adversary. The issue is not specifically the tunnels — which Israel knew about — but the way Hamas fighters trained to use them to create what experts in Israel are calling a “360-degree front.”
Plumes of smoke above a neighborhood in Gaza City after militants fired rockets toward Israel on Thursday after a lull in fighting.From Gaza, an Array of Makeshift Rockets Packs a CounterpunchJULY 17, 2014 “Hamas has changed its doctrine and is using the tunnels as a main method of operation,” said Israel Ziv, a retired general who headed the military’s Gaza division and its operations directorate. “This is something we learned amid the fighting.”
Israeli troops in Gaza described Hamas gunmen who vanished from one house, like magicians, and suddenly popped up to fire at them from another. And while Hamas fighters are able to use the tunnels to surprise the forces from behind and to attack those in the rear, Israeli soldiers find themselves having to improvise. In the Gaza war that began in late 2008, 10 Israeli soldiers were killed, four of them from friendly fire. This time, 61 soldiers have been killed, mostly in combat, and one has now been taken prisoner.more