Deceptively Quiet: The Israeli Southern Border – September 2015

By Gideon

September 19, 2015

“The Israeli Air Force struck three terror targets in northern Gaza overnight after the Iron Dome system intercepted an Ashkelon bound rocket, and another rocket landed in Sderot causing damage to a house and bus.” [YNET September 19, 2015]

If we are not careful, one day in the near future, we could be facing a major terrorist attack launched from the Gaza strip into Israel. Hamas doesn’t need a reason, just an opportunity. Hamas keeps probing and testing the Israeli defense system, looking for a soft spot where it could bypass the multi-layer and multi-purpose barrier along the the Israel-Gaza border.

Hamas is being squeezed pretty hard by Egypt in retaliation for the role it played in the terrorist attack on Egyptian  forces in July 2015 — a coordinated  attack on fifteen Egyptian military outposts in the northern Sinai Peninsula, aimed to destabilize Egypt and topple the government. More than 100 militants and 17 soldiers were killed in the attack.

While Israel has caved-in under international pressure and allows construction materials to enter the Gaza strip, knowing very well that the majority of the material is being used for reinforcing attack tunnels aimed to destroy Israel, the Egyptians have taken a different approach; they are determined to seal the border between the Gaza strip and Egypt. 

After clearing a kilometer wide strip along the Egypt-Gaza border by bulldozing residential houses to make it more difficult for Hamas to conceal its tunnels, the Egyptians are now laying a pipe in the sand along Egypt-Gaza border in order to flood the tunnels  with seawater diverted from the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel is not sitting idle either. Most of what the IDF is doing is classified, but some information makes its way to Israeli newspapers, so we know the following:  

  • Most Hamas successes in the previous confrontation were the result of firing short-range mortars shells into Israel. The distance is so short that Israel’s alert system was not effective. Israeli newspapers recently reported that Israel has improved its rocket alert system for near-range rocket attacks as described below:
  • The IDF’s Southern Command and defense firms have recently finished installing the system, and it will likely become operational in the middle of next month. Improving the warning time has been a grave problem the defense establishment has been dealing with for many years, and particularly since last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, that saw thousands of rockets rain over Israel – many of them short-range mortar shells that hit communities adjacent to the Gaza border. So far, residents in these communities only had five seconds from the moment the Code Red rocket alert siren was sounded until the rocket hit. Now, they will have 12-13 seconds to run for cover.” [YNET – September 6, 2015]
  • It was reported that Hamas is preparing to attack neighborhoods in  Israel’s  southern cities Ashkelon and Ashdod in the next war. In its Hebrew version,YNET quoted yestreday the chief intelligence officer of the the Israeli navy, who stated that Hamas has combat divers. It is not difficult to guess their target: the same Israeli cities;  Ashkelon and Ashdod, which are located on the Mediterranean shore, within a swimming distance from Gaza.
  • Hamas and Israel may be already combating each other in the Mediterranean. If not, it will happen in the near future.
  • Through its sophisticated intelligence capabilities,  the IDF is most likely gathering information on specific location of Hamas’ underground tunnels, combat divers, and rocket launchers. It is a difficult cat and mouse game, when the cat has to win every time and the mouse only need to win once to declare a victory.