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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Hamas Moves to Guerrilla Warfare in Gaza

Filed under: Hamas, Operation Swords of Iron

Hamas Moves to Guerrilla Warfare in Gaza
A map of a Hamas tunnel network discovered by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. (IDF)

The current situation in the Gaza Strip presents a complex challenge for the IDF as Hamas shifts its tactics toward guerrilla warfare.

The IDF is responding by adapting its strategies and aiming to locate and neutralize the top military leadership of Hamas, headed by Yahya Sinwar.

After more than 80 days of fighting, the IDF assesses that gaining control of the Khan Yunis area could take several months until the military elite of Hamas is effectively eliminated.

Hamas’ fighting style involves small squads operating from a network of tunnels, launching surprise attacks, and using anti-tank missiles, RPGs, explosives, IEDs, and snipers.

The IDF faces difficulties mastering the extensive tunnel system. Some parts of the tunnels are 200 feet deep and accessible by elevators.

Intelligence suggests that the tunnel network exceeds 500 km, with thousands of shafts in the area. Destroying these tunnels requires importing significant quantities of explosives from abroad.

To counter this challenge, the IDF is considering accelerating the evacuation of the Palestinian population from the Khan Yunis area and shifting to targeted commando raids based on precise intelligence.

However, the IDF is constrained by political orders to remain above ground to combat the tunnel threat.

The primary focus remains on locating and eliminating the military leadership of Hamas, particularly Yahya Sinwar, and senior figures like Muhammad Deif and Marwan Issa.

This targeted approach is a strategic action that could impact the war’s course, boost IDF morale, and enhance international legitimacy for the operation.

Looking ahead, the IDF aims to occupy the Rafah area and the “Philadelphi Corridor” along the Egypt-Gaza border, a region riddled with tunnels used for smuggling weapons. This operation requires coordinating with Egypt and evacuating displaced persons near Rafah.

Israel’s overall objective is to prevent Hamas from maintaining any governmental outpost in the Gaza Strip.