Israeli forces are intensifying efforts to address a major challenge in their ground operations in Gaza – the extensive network of underground tunnels constructed by Hamas. Over decades, the Palestinian militant group has developed more than 300 miles of tunnels, some exceeding 100 feet underground, forming what the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) colloquially term the “Gaza metro.”
These tunnels serve as storage for weapons, house electrical generators, command and control centers, and potentially hold hostages abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant described the intricate system at a press briefing, emphasizing its use for terrorism against Israeli citizens and soldiers.
Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attack includes relentless airstrikes, a ground incursion, and a blockade, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. Health authorities report over 10,300 casualties, half of them children. IDF has surrounded Gaza City, a Hamas stronghold, acknowledging the existence of tunnels under civilian sites, including al-Shifa hospital.
The underground labyrinth provides strategic advantages for Hamas, offering protection and opportunities for ambushing Israeli forces. Images released by IDF suggest tunnel locations near a Ferris wheel and university. Despite international pressure to avoid civilian harm, Israel continues bombing populated areas. Evacuation warnings persist, but hundreds of thousands remain in Gaza City and northern Gaza, awaiting aid that hasn’t arrived in over a month.
As Israel braces for the next phase – storming Gaza City and confronting the subterranean Hamas network – the conflict’s toll on both sides intensifies.