JERUSALEM — Israel’s campaign into the Gaza Strip began Thursday with a brief incursion of armored and mechanical forces that paved the way for a wider territorial entry.
The vanguard mission came after nearly two weeks Israeli bombing of Hamas targets which are intended to neutralize some of the threats ahead of the incoming forces.
Israel is responding to an October 7 attack by the militant group Hamas on kibbutzim and towns in the country’s south that killed more than 1,400 civilians. The militant group also kidnapped hundreds of people of various ages.
Local analysts expect the conflict to extend to Israel’s northern border, as the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group attacks from that direction.
Israel’s Defense Ministry has a number of weapons on hand from the country’s defense companies that could be used as ground forces prepare to enter Gaza, although government officials have kept their plans secret.
One of the new technologies that could see combat is the Spark unmanned aircraft developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and its subsidiary Aeronautics. The Israeli Air Force took delivery of the system last month.
Not much is known about the Spark other than the Air Force’s description of the drone as vital to “multidimensional warfare,” intelligence missions and “coordinating precision strikes.”
Israel’s Trophy active protection system for armored vehicles, also developed by Rafael, is expected to play a key role in disabling anti-tank weapons as the force advances. Already purchased by various foreign militaries, the countermeasures suite is installed on Israel’s Merkava IV tanks.
This year Israeli forces also began receiving the Barak tank, which is the fifth iteration of the Merkava, equipped with an improved Trophy system and a radar target finder for its gun.
Along with additional cameras and sensors that provide situational awareness to the Barak tank crew, the platform can fight better than its predecessors with the tank hatches closed while the crew is protected inside.
The newest type of tank has yet to enter the Israel Defense Forces on a large scale, but military leaders could use the Gaza invasion to test their promise of improved survivability.
Eyes will also turn to Rafael’s Fire Weaver system, developed with the Israeli Defense Ministry’s weapons development directorate. The networked sensor-to-gunner system is intended for maneuver forces, and the company says it connects intelligence-gathering equipment to fire weapons within a minute of target recognition. Fire Weaver is said to be operational from 2022.
“The Gaza campaign consists of several stages, one of which is a ground invasion,” retired General Eitan Ben Eliyahu, a former commander of the Israeli Air Force, told Defense News. “It’s also a structural environment, where each of the buildings can be a death trap for Israeli forces.”
Jally Greenberg is Defense News’ Israel correspondent. He has experience reporting on financial affairs as well as defense and cyber companies.
Read the original at Defence247.gr