Israeli Navy Gears Up for Hamas Offshore Threat

An Israeli Navy vessel seen off the coast of Gaza. (Edi Israel/Flash90)
An Israeli Navy vessel seen off the coast of Gaza. (Edi Israel/Flash90)

Hamas under ground has long been the worry of the IDF; but Hamas on the sea increasingly occupies the Israeli Navy, as Iranian-tutored marine capabilities have emerged as a threat in future conflict

In particular, the repulse of so-called swarm-like boat attacks will be the task of the Navy’s Squadron 916, the fast patrol boats that protect the coastline from northern Israel to southern Gaza.

“Hamas is building up its ability to cause much damage from sea-based attacks,” a navy source told The Jerusalem Post this week.

“It is improving its diving commando units, and creating sea forces that are much more capable than they were before. Hamas has received battle doctrines from Iran — which is also building up its sea capabilities — on how to deliver ‘stings’ through swarms,” the source said.

“They will try to attack our vessels with swarms.” Hamas’s aim in any future conflict is to cause heavy damage in the opening stage, and achieve a “victory picture, even if all Hamas attackers are killed in the process. From their perspective, if the attack succeeds, they won,” he said.

Israeli counter-measures are said to include more underwater sonar sensors and fast response to suspicious activity, as well as an array of new underwater explosive fuses to combat both surface and underwater actions.

Besides direct attack on Israeli vessels, the expanded Hamas marine forces will be used in smuggling operations to bring rocket-building materials from Sinai to Gaza via boats.

“The sea is one big blue tunnel,” he said. “As Egypt continues demolishing tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, we expect an increase in sea smuggling attempts,” he added.

Last year, Squadron 916 foiled a number of such attempts.