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In her article “Underground Warfare” for Foreign Policy magazine, Daphne Richemond-Barak discusses the unprecedented use of tunnels by Hamas in the ongoing conflict with Israel. She highlights the innovative ways in which Hamas has utilized the tunnels, allowing them to survive underground for extended periods of time. The author emphasizes that Hamas’s strategy is to position civilians between themselves and the Israelis, using them as a form of “human camouflage” and “human ammunition” to build international pressure on Israel to end the war.

Richemond-Barak explains that the Israeli Defense Forces have struggled to effectively deal with the tunnels, resorting to a slow and dangerous process of clearing and destroying them. This involves clearing the area around a tunnel entrance, using robots, drones, and dogs to detect explosives and enemy combatants, and sending in units trained in underground warfare. Despite these efforts, it is difficult for Israel to detect or map the entirety of Hamas’s tunnel network, making it challenging to achieve a definitive victory without destroying a significant portion of the underground infrastructure.

The destruction caused by Israel’s operations in Gaza, particularly due to the targeting of tunnels, has resulted in significant damage and loss of life. The author notes that Israel has caused more destruction in Gaza than Syria did in Aleppo and Russia did in Mariupol, as reported by an Associated Press analysis. However, John Spencer, an expert in urban warfare at West Point, asserts that Israel has taken more precautions to protect civilians than the United States did in similar conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Spencer highlights the efforts made by Israel to minimize civilian casualties, including warning civilians before military operations, providing online maps and distributing pamphlets, texts, and recorded calls to inform residents of potential dangers. The Israeli Defense Forces have also implemented daily pauses in operations to allow civilians to evacuate combat areas and have utilized speakers to give instructions on where to go for safety. While these measures have helped protect civilians, Spencer suggests that they have also prolonged the conflict by signaling Israeli military movements to Hamas.

Overall, Richemond-Barak’s article sheds light on the complex and challenging nature of underground warfare in the conflict between Hamas and Israel. The use of tunnels by Hamas, combined with Israel’s efforts to counter them, has resulted in significant destruction and loss of life in Gaza. While Israel has taken steps to protect civilians, the ongoing conflict underscores the difficulty of achieving a clear victory in such a protracted and heavily entrenched conflict.

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