At the gates of Gaza City, Israel concentrates tanks, soldiers and missiles to begin the battle of the tunnels against Hamas

Israeli tanks in the vicinity of the capital of Gaza await the order to begin a new offensive against the terrorist organization Hamas (Europa Press/Contact/Nir Alon/)

(Special envoy to Israel’s border with Gaza) Tanks, missiles and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) They are concentrated less than two kilometers from the suburbs of Gaza City, after intense fighting with hundreds of Hamas terrorists who had to retreat to regroup their forces in the secret tunnels of the capital of the Strip.

Faced with this military weakness, Hamas – through Qatar – once again demanded a ceasefire “for humanitarian reasons”, while its terrorist allies in Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Yemen (Houthis) They continue to launch missiles, rockets and armed drones against civilian populations in the north and south of Israeli territory.

The war pressure of the Israel Defense Forces opened three gaps in Gaza’s terrorist resistance. One column crossed the borders of the Strip along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, while a second column attacked Hamas cells that had been located between the cities of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia, less than a kilometer from Israel’s northern border. (Erez).

These two columns -with hundreds of soldiers, tanks, missiles and constant support from planes and helicopters- was formed into the first leg of a pincer over the capital of Gaza, which would be completed with a second leg deployed with another military column that would be located south of the Strip.

The terrorist organization resisted the advance of the Israeli infantry for hours who finally won in that bloody combat. From that moment on, with control of the Saladin route – which connects Gaza from south to north – Hamas was trapped in the capital without the possibility of connecting with both ends of the Strip.

Until now, official figures assure that 16 Israeli soldiers died.

The secret tunnels that Hamas has in the capital of Gaza are its main tactical defense against the Israeli army offensive
The secret tunnels that Hamas has in the capital of Gaza are its main tactical defense against the Israeli army offensive (Europa Press/Contact/Yousef Moh/)

Weigh the demands of the Arab world and to the requests of the White House and the main European powers, Israel will not accept a ceasefire in the war it is waging with Hamas. On the contrary, in the last few hours a systematic concentration of tanks, missiles, rockets, anti-tank grenades and soldiers has begun to advance against the tunnels that the terrorist organization occupies in Gaza City.

Advised by experts sent from the Pentagon who faced Isis in Iraq, Israeli troops will not make a frontal offensive against the terrorist cells that move through the secret passages. It will be a gradual attack, in stages, very far from the intention of executing a blitzkrieg that the war cabinet raised in the days before the conflict.

The Israeli army built in the Negev desert a replica of a palestinian village which he nicknamed “Little Gaza”. There, soldiers train to combat armed terrorists in narrow streets and in the tunnels set up by Hamas. The recreation of the Palestinian village is anchored in time: there is a portrait of Yasser Arafat, the PLO leader who died in November 2004.

A tunnel is one meter eighty high and has a width of 90 centimeters. Without urban training, accustomed to open field combat, the battle for control of Gaza can mutate into a death trap for Israel’s soldiers.

In the tunnels there may be booby bombs installed – which are activated from a distance – in addition to dozens of terrorists who can attack and retreat towards another exit that the Israeli forces do not know about. That is to say: without intelligence information, the passageways act as an underground trench and an ideal space to set up an ambush with a bloody end.

Still, in recent weeks, Israel’s soldiers have deepened their training to confront Hamas in the tunnels. Israel has a unit called Samura specialist in the underground battle that the terrorist organization will pose when the next stage for total control of Gaza begins.

The Samur unit applies a combat technique that will be used in the Strip. It’s called “purple hair.”– Soldiers throw smoke grenades of that color into a tunnel and then determine if the purple smoke comes to the surface or is retained in the passageway. This method establishes the future combat tactics: the passage has -or does not- an exit, its extension is known and its use in the war conflict is presumed.

Several Israeli soldiers during the ground incursion into the Gaza Strip
Several Israeli soldiers during the ground incursion into the Gaza Strip (Israel Defense Forces/)

The Israel Defense Forces have everything ready to advance on the Hamas tunnels in the capital of Gaza. It would be the final step before assuming total control of the Strip, a military movement that would imply geopolitical consequences in the Middle East.

Tomorrow Antony Blinken arrives in Tel Aviv to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Secretary of State brings a message from Joseph Biden, who supports Israel but is worried about a possible disaster in the region. Without the political and military support of the United States, The battle of the tunnels will remain in parentheses.