Israel to develop ‘Iron Spade’ to counter Hamas
Israel is developing a new system that will detect and destruct tunnels as they are dug by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Britain’s weekly The Sunday Times reported.
The new system, which was developed by a consortium led by Elbit Systems, Israel’s biggest developer of military technology, is expected to eliminate any future threat from the tunnels without recourse to such large-scale force.
It is described as the an underground version of the Iron Dome air defense system which has destroyed around 90% of the rockets fired at Israel from Gaza.
Rafael, the company behind the construction of the Iron Dome is also involved in the new project.
The destruction of tunnels was cited by Israel as the pretext for its ground invasion of Gaza on July 16.
The protection system will be based on a two-pronged approach, an officer from the Israeli Defence Force told the Tel-Aviv based daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot.
First, sensors and transmitters will be used to monitor underground excavations and cavities before destroying them by a new generation of robots.
In sensitive areas, a physical barrier will be inserted to a depth of 100ft, Atai Shelach, a former commander of a tunnel destruction unit said.
The new high-tech shield, which is expected to cost around £430m, will be deployed along Israel’s 42-mile border with Gaza.
Despite the new technological breakthroughs, many military experts warn that the problem of “terror tunnels” is likely to remain.
“It’s a global strategic problem and threat,” Shelach said.
“It isn’t a wild guess to assume that [there are already] offensive tunnels in the north, and even in Syria,” he added.
Israeli and Palestinian delegations are set to restart indirect Gaza cease-fire talks in Egypt on Sunday.
Hamas said the Egyptian proposal on the table is unacceptable and threatened to renew fighting.
Israel on the other hand said security will be restored “one way or another.”