Even though IDF forces have encircled Gaza City and spent more than a month targeting Hamas positions and tunnels, videotaped attacks recently released by Hamas and analyzed by CNN help illustrate how difficult it will be to stop the Islamist militants.
CNN has geolocated a number of the clashes seen in the Hamas videos to three main locations: the Al-Shati refugee camp, Atatra and Beit Hanoun. The videos were released after the Israeli ground invasion began.
The remaining fights CNN was unable to geolocate were either in incredibly dense city streets or very rural areas — mainly olive groves.
The overall success of the Hamas attacks depicted — whether the bulk of their fighters survive and whether they are causing IDF personnel casualties or disabling equipment — is unclear from the videos, which are heavily edited and redacted propaganda. Hamas only touts its successful missions in its videos.
However, Hamas publishing body camera footage of its fighters carrying out an ambush does indicate that at least one of their fighters survived and brought back footage.
CNN military analyst and retired US Lt. General Mark Hertling reviewed the videos and said that Hamas was likely utilizing shape-charge rocket-propelled grenades, which have the potential to be specifically devastating to some military vehicles, like armored personnel carriers.
An IDF spokesperson declined to comment on the number of military vehicles that have been disabled or destroyed during the ground invasion, citing “operational security considerations.”
Clearing Hamas’ tunnels with weapons stockpiles and fighters inside will likely take months. Additionally, Hamas fighters can now also use the aftermath of the Israeli military strikes — the ruins of buildings — as cover to carry out their ambushes.
Hertling said that trying to stop these ambushes would be like “whack-a-mole” unless the IDF was able to knock out every single tunnel complex, tunnel opening or shaft.
“It’s going to take months to do that,” he said, noting that clearing operations can’t be done by vehicles.
IDF soldiers will have to clear each building individually, which will expose them to rifle and sniper fire from Hamas and, in turn, risk a skyrocketing casualty rate.
Hamas says the videos were taken on November 2, 3, 5, and 6. A CNN analysis could not independently confirm that time period, but the length and direction of the shadows in the videos also indicate many of the ambushes either occurred on different days or took place many hours apart.
At most of the sites, Hamas fighters are seen carrying out multiple ambushes, at different times throughout the day.