THE LABYRINTH WAR
Israel targets the Hamas tunnel system under Gaza City
The Israeli leadership is continuing its all-out war against Hamas—a war being played out in the air above Gaza City; at street level, where tanks have entered the zone; and underground in a labyrinth of tunnels under Gaza—as the death toll from its constant bombing and shelling mounts. More than 8,000 residents of the Gaza Strip have been killed so far, forty percent of them children, according to the international aid group Defense for Children, in retaliation for Hamas’s terrorist attack on an all-night Israeli dance party, kibbutzim, and small farming villages in the south of Israel on October 7. Hamas still holds more than 230 Israeli hostages it seized on that murderous Saturday, when scarcely any Israeli forces appeared on the scene for as long as ten hours.
The Israeli death count for the Hamas attack of October 7 now stands at 1,400 and includes 317 members of the Israeli military—some of those victims may be military contractors—and 58 policemen. At least thirty Americans, according to the State Department, many of them working for NGOs, were also killed, and thirteen Americans are still unaccounted for. Dozens of those captured by Hamas—among them the very young and the very old—never made it to its tunnel system because they fell or, more likely, were flung off the bicycles or motorcycles that were carrying them and were immediately executed.
In the last few days, the Israeli Defense Force has escalated its ground operations against Hamas by sending tank columns directly into Gaza and firing from a distance at targets in Gaza City. I was told by a military expert, who has served in combat with the IDF, that the tank movements were the beginning of a second phase of its combat operations against Hamas. The goal, he said, is to break Hamas’s defensive perimeter around its main bunkers and tunnels in the center of Gaza City. The tank columns “are not rushing into the center. Rather, they stay put on the perimeters, firing in from a distance.”