For the past several years, the IDF’s approach to Gaza has primarily been reactive: it has responded to occasional rocket fire and other attacks with limited, precision strikes aimed at deterring Hamas from going any farther. But Israel’s response last weekend to the targeting of its border patrol by means of an explosive device speaks to a new strategy. Ron Ben-Yishai explains:
Now, the IDF [uses] every event and incident on the Gaza border to destroy Hamas’s most important military abilities, primarily the tunnels. These are no longer acts of retaliation, punishment, and deterrence, but real warfare against Hamas, which will make it easier for the IDF to manage the next round of fighting in the Strip and protect the Israeli communities in the Gaza vicinity.
This is a new type of “war between wars” [as the IDF terms this low-intensity conflict]. Whereas the war between wars in the north is aimed at preventing the delivery of high-quality, precision-guided weapons to Hizballah and the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, the new southern war between wars is aimed at thwarting the ability of Hamas and Islamic Jihad both to infiltrate Israel through underground tunnels and to fight IDF forces within the Strip by transferring fighters, weapons, and rockets through tunnels excavated in Gaza. . . .
This has all been made possible thanks to the quick development and use of new technologies [for the] discovery, detection, and location of tunnels both in the area close to the Israel-Gaza border and deep within the Strip, [along with the] modern technologies for close and remote neutralization of tunnels, both from the air and from the ground. . . . Furthermore, these technological abilities, whose nature has been kept strictly confidential, make it possible to destroy tunnels and target Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s most important military assets without killing Islamic Jihad or Hamas members, based on the calculation that these organizations won’t embark on a major escalation if none of their members have been killed.