As the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza continues, Israeli forces face a significant challenge in dealing with the extensive tunnel network that Hamas has established. These underground passages have become a strategic asset for the Palestinian group, and Israel is employing an innovative solution to address this threat.
Hamas is known to have an intricate network of tunnels, some stretching hundreds of kilometers in length and reaching depths of up to 80 meters beneath the Gaza Strip. These tunnels serve as hideouts, transportation routes, and storage facilities for the group.
To counter this tunnel network, the Israeli military has developed “sponge bombs.” Unlike traditional explosives, these devices create a sudden explosion of foam that rapidly expands and hardens, effectively sealing off gaps or tunnel entrances.
These sponge bombs are non-lethal and are designed to prevent Hamas operatives from emerging from the tunnels. They consist of two distinct liquids encased within a protective plastic container with a metal barrier. When activated, the two liquids merge and advance toward the target location.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been actively testing and deploying these sponge bombs. During exercises near the Gaza border in 2021, IDF units were observed using these innovative devices in a mock tunnel system.
Among the specialized units involved in tunnel-related operations is “Yahalom,” a group of commandos from Israel’s Combat Engineering Corps, aptly nicknamed the “weasels.” These elite soldiers are trained to locate, clear, and destroy tunnels, making them a crucial part of Israel’s efforts to counter the tunnel threat posed by Hamas.
Hamas began constructing its tunnel network in the mid-1990s and has since expanded it significantly. The ease of tunneling increased in 2005 when Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza. This withdrawal allowed Hamas to further develop its tunnel infrastructure.
The extensive tunnel network is a key reason why Hamas maintains a strong presence in Gaza, distinguishing it from its presence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
As the conflict in Gaza unfolds, Israel’s use of innovative technology like sponge bombs demonstrates the ongoing efforts to address the complex challenges posed by Hamas’s tunnel network. These non-lethal solutions aim to disrupt the group’s tactics and protect the safety of both Israeli forces and civilians.