Israeli soldiers are equipped with some of the most advanced personal weaponry available to a modern military, but they nonetheless face great danger on the ground in Gaza.
The Islamist militant group Hamas, masters of asymmetrical warfare, has several key weapons that can inflict heavy casualties on an invading force, despite being overmatched. These weapons were not of great concern to Israel when it was attacking from sea and air. But the danger has increased exponentially since Israel launched its ground assault over the weekend.
By Matt Sanchez
One significant danger every Israeli soldier faces in Gaza is a foe who is yearning to give up his life. Hamas has built a force of willing homicide bombers whose explosive vests are typically packed with an assortment of shrapnel to raise the casualty rate among their targets.
While Israeli soldiers are prepared to die in the defense of their country, they are also trained to survive. The homicide bomber is, therefore, a weapon available only to one side of this conflict.
Hamas has been talking tough in the face of superior military power; its leaders have vowed to inflict massive casualties.
“Gaza will be your cemetery,” and “we will fight until the last breath,” Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said in a written statement.
As Israel pushes into Gaza on the ground, it does not know exactly what weapons — and how many of them — Hamas possesses.
“We don’t know what has been smuggled into Gaza,” said David Schenker, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute and a former Pentagon official specializing in Middle East issues.
“Syrians and Iranians have supplied Hamas with training and weaponry,” Shenker said, pointing to a variety of weapons used during Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon as examples of what Israeli ground troops may face in Gaza.
“In Southern Lebanon, we saw the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that disabled several Merkava tanks and killed the soldiers inside,” Shenker said in a phone interview with FOXNews.com.
“In Lebanon, we confirmed the use of the Kornet anti-tank system,” Shenker said, referring to a series of Russian manufactured wire-guided missile systems. When U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003, the relatively small and easy to use Kornet anti-tank system reportedly disabled several American tanks, though Russia denied having sold the armor-piercing weapons to Iraq.
In Lebanon, between 46 and 50 Merkava main battle tanks (of the 400 deployed) were hit by anti-tank weapons, according to Western sources. In this case, too, Russia denied selling arms to either Syria or Hezbollah.
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