Israel Banks on a Fence
The Future of Palestine
Israel's New Strategy
Can Hamas Be Tamed?
The Hamas Conundrum
The Untamed Shrew, Four Years On
Letter From Gaza: Hamas the Opportunist
Hamas’ Tunnel Diplomacy
How to Handle Hamas
The Perils of Ignoring Gaza's Leadership
The Palestinian Spring?
Hamas and Fatah Have Unified, but not Yet Reconciled
Israel's Gamble in Gaza
The Perils of Operation Pillar of Defense
Why The Group Thought It Could Get Away With Striking Israel
Where Hamas Goes From Here
Time To Regroup or Rupture
Hamas' Not-So-Secret Weapon
Meet Salah al-Arouri, the Man Behind the Group's Kidnapping Strategy
Why Cairo Can't Broker a Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas
The Near Enemy
Why the Real Threat to Israel Isn't in Gaza
Bibi's First War
Why Benjamin Netanyahu Has Never Liked Military Conflict
How Hamas Won
Israel's Tactical Success and Strategic Failure
Gaza's Bottle Rockets
Why Hamas' Arsenal Wasn't Worth a War
Notes From the Underground
The Long History of Tunnel Warfare
Why Withdrawing From the West Bank Would Make Israel Safer
Why Israel Should Stop Pushing Hamas to Give Up Its Weapons
Is Trusteeship for Palestine the Answer?
Perhaps the most surprising development of the recent war between Israel and Gaza was the discovery of the sophisticated network of tunnels that Hamas had quietly developed in the preceding years. The dark, low-tech tunnels running underneath Gaza offered a stark juxtaposition to the modern artillery Israel deployed on the surface.
But if the tunnels hinted at an older kind of warfare, that doesn’t mean they should be dismissed as a military curiosity. Compared with the most sophisticated weapons systems in use today, tunnels have withstood the test of time: for centuries, they have allowed military units to approach their enemies undetected and helped weaker combatants turn the battlefield to their advantage. There’s no way to know how long drones or lasers or anti-missile defense systems will last. But as long as there is warfare, tunnels will almost certainly be part of the fight.
FROM ANTIQUITY TO MODERNITY
Tunnels and caves, tunnels’ geologic predecessor, have a long history in warfare stretching back to biblical times. For at least 3,000 years, embattled populations have used them to hide from, and strike at, stronger enemies. Ironically, this has been especially so in the region where present-day Israel and Palestine are located. Archaeologists have found more than 450 ancient cave systems in the Holy Land, including many that were dug into mountainsides, which the Jews used to launch guerrilla-style attacks on Roman legionnaires during the Great Jewish Revolt from AD 66 to 70. The Romans faced the same tactic around that time in their fight along the Rhine and Danube frontiers in Europe, against Germanic tribes who would dig hidden trenches connected by tunnels and then spring out of the ground to ambush the Roman soldiers.
But the use of tunnels hasn’t been limited to insurgencies. It wasn’t long before the Roman Empire began using them as an offensive weapon in siege warfare. By digging a hidden trench right up to a city’s walls, and then tunneling underneath to undermine the walls and
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