The Underground Army Says it is Better Prepared Than Many Expected

Major-General Yoav Galant, the head of the Southern Command, told the Security Cabinet at the weekend that Operation Cast Lead had created a “once in a generation” opportunity to destroy Hamas, and called for the deployment of thousands more troops in Gaza.

The bearded young Hamas fighter stood beneath a shop’s awning in the centre of Gaza City as he tried to hide from Israeli drones. “Gaza will be like a volcano erupting beneath the Israelis. It will destroy the legend of their invincible army,” he boasted as the street echoed to the sound of distant gunfire and explosions.

“We are soldiers who run towards death. They run away from it,” he declared as the Israeli army engaged in some of the fiercest fighting yet on the city’s fringes. “The Israeli leaders are gambling their future by coming into the mud of Gaza. They will leave defeated.”

Mohammed achieved his childhood dream of joining the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, at the age of 18. He trained as a signaller, was taught how to fire rocket-propelled grenades and was given his own AK47. Now 24, he is married only to his cause and religion. With an easy smile that masks his fanaticism, he described some of the elaborate plans Hamas has laid to ensnare Israeli soldiers in Gaza’s labyrinthine streets and alleys.

He spoke of a huge network of tunnels designed to enable Hamas fighters to attack and retreat, to ambush and kidnap, to blow up Israeli vehicles passing overhead and move undetected by aerial surveillance. He talked of mines which have been laid but are not primed until the Israelis approach. He described how plans had been prepared to defend each part of the city, and how they were immediately changed when a fighter was captured. If a fighter was killed, another was trained to take his place.

He said the fighters constantly changed their locations and tactics. They never attacked from the same place twice. They had secret means of communication, and spread disinformation to confuse the Israelis when speaking on their radios. They wore civilian clothes, concealed their weapons, and no longer walked around in groups.

Morale was high, Mohammed insisted. Hamas had lost fewer fighters than expected and there was an infinite supply of eager replacements for those “martyred”. It still had plenty of rockets that could be launched remotely from hidden bunkers. “We can continue as long as it takes,” he said. “I tell you, even our ghosts will defeat the Israelis.”

By contrast, the Israeli military suggests that Hamas is on the run.

Major-General Yoav Galant, the head of the Southern Command, told the Security Cabinet at the weekend that Operation Cast Lead had created a “once in a generation” opportunity to destroy Hamas, and called for the deployment of thousands more troops in Gaza.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle5497340.ece