Fighting in tunnels is incredibly difficult, Luttwak said, noting that it requires special skills and that standard tactics and weapons are often not suitable in underground environments. “Tunnel warfare is not for amateurs,” he said.
Spencer noted that it is difficult to conduct attack operations inside the tunnels because navigation and communications systems often don’t work so far underground, and even night vision goggles pose problems because they require some ambient light.
The sound of a weapon being fired is also amplified in the tunnel, posing enormous danger to the soldier firing the weapon increased hearing protection, he said.
Because the tunnels are so important to Hamas’s operations, dismantling the network is equally important to Israel’s stated goal of completely eradicating Hamas, Richemond-Barak said. But sending soldiers into the tunnels would be incredibly risky and “really a last resort,” for example for rescuing the hostages, she said, although even that scenario would require a complex balancing of various factors.
The precarious location of the tunnels beneath Gaza’s busy streets – as well as the captivity of hostages in the tunnels – has presented the Israeli military with a number of difficult decisions, Richemond-Barak added. The only way to destroy the network is through airstrikes, she said, but the tunnels lie beneath densely populated civilian areas.
Israel urged Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate south amid airstrikes and ahead of a planned ground invasion. However, some Palestinians said they would not evacuate due to security concerns following reports of an attack on a convoy of evacuees. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said many Palestinians, particularly pregnant women, children, the elderly and the disabled, could not be evacuated. Human Rights Watch said the Israeli order was “not an effective warning,” citing poor road conditions and dwindling fuel supplies.
Source : www.washingtonpost.com