WATCH: IDF prepares for tunnel warfare in future Lebanon, Gaza conflicts

IDF special forces train at new underground training facility; training based on lessons from Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead.

The Israel Defense Forces introduced a new method of conducting underground warfare on Tuesday, in preparation for a war with either Hezbollah or Hamas.

Gaza smuggling tunnel - AP

Gaza smuggling tunnel - Photo by AP

The method, which has been developed since the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, is meant to combat the underground tunnel systems used by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which are often used for weapons transfers.

The IDF believes that in Lebanon, the Hezbollah has dozens of underground bases, from which the organization operates its rocket launching operations.

Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, is running a similar underground system, including dozens of “combat tunnels” connecting Gaza homes, including “kidnapping tunnels” – through which kidnapped soldiers maybe taken, as well as “terror tunnels” used to move weapons.

Click here to view an IDF training video clip from YouTube

On Tuesday, the IDF exhibited its new combat techniques developed after the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. The IDF constructed a tunnel system designed to simulate those used by terror organizations for training purposes. The IDF’s special forces have been training there since it had opened in preparation for another conflict in Gaza or Lebanon.

As a rule, the IDF avoids entering tunnels and underground command centers if it can avoid doing so, because of the danger posed to the soldiers. Despite this, in certain cases, it may be deemed essential to send in forces, such as when a soldier is kidnapped or vital intelligence can be gathered.

The IDF is working under the assumption that ground forces are vital in order to achieve victory in a conflict. “Occupation is the only narrative that can provide an image of victory,” said a high-ranking officer in the IDF’s Ground Forces Command, eluding to the IDF’s scramble in the Second Lebanon War to achieve a status that could be read by the public as a victory.

“In wars, the IDF target bank is depleted within a few hours or days; at that point the army loses its effectiveness in fighting the enemy,” the officer explained. “A state in which both sides continue firing at each other is bad. Best case scenario – it’s a tie, and a tie is a loss, which will not do. We need to occupy the territory.”

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By Gili Cohen