Israeli Army training commandos for guerrilla tunnel wars

Special to

TEL AVIV — The Israel Army has trained units and developed weapons
to defeat underground threats.

Military sources said the Army has established units meant to detect and
capture underground enemy facilities.

An Israeli soldier from the Yahalom (Diamond) unit takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv on March 7. /Reuters/Nir Elias

The sources said such Iranian proxies as Hamas, Hizbullah and Syria were building bunkers and tunnels to surprise Israeli ground forces.

“You can see a growing threat,” an officer said.

One anti-tunnel unit was identified as Yahalom, Hebrew for diamond.
Yahalom, part of the Engineering Corps, has been training soldiers to
rapidly detect and destroy underground facilities, first encountered by Israel in its war with Hizbullah in 2006.

Yahalom members have been instructed in hand-to-hand combat as well as the use of pistols and mini-assault rifles for close-range engagement. The soldiers were also taught to fight with oxygen masks in case the tunnels were filled with poison gas.

In March, the Army demonstrated a Yahalom operation at a special
operations force base near Tel Aviv. The Sirkin base contained a
mock tunnel for exercises, which included the use of a robot as well as dogs.

Training was also said to include the use of explosives to destroy enemy
tunnels. The sources said they expect Hamas and Hizbullah to make extensive
use of tunnel warfare in any major conflict.

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