UK spy chief warns Hamas laying a trap as Israel prepares for months of brutal urban warfare against the militants in bombed-out Gaza.
According to The New York Times, Israel’s anticipated assault could send it into months of deadly urban combat on Gaza’s streets and in its network of tunnels, but a former UK intelligence chief warns that it’s a trap.
Israel has long avoided an invasion of this scale — which could be the largest since its 2006 invasion of Lebanon, per the Times — as it was reluctant to fight in the densely populated, narrow Gaza Strip.
According to the NYT, Israeli soldiers have recently received additional training in urban environments to aid them in fighting in Gaza’s ruins.
They will face a highly motivated enemy fighting on its home turf, using exploding roadside bombs and booby-trapping buildings.
Hamas will also aim to exploit its extensive network of tunnels in northern Gaza to ambush Israeli forces from behind, a Hamas officer, speaking anonymously, told the NYT.
But following Hamas’ wave of surprise terrorist attacks on October 7, in which at least 1,300 people in Israel died, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have responded with a barrage of airstrikes.
They are now gearing up to send a mass force into Gaza itself.
The IDF aims to take out the military and political leadership of the Palestinian militant group Hamas and recover up to 150 hostages taken by the group during last week’s attacks.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the IDF said on Saturday that it had “eliminated” Ali Qadi, who it said led the attacks on October 7.
Some military and political leaders are talking of an 18-monthlong operation of door-to-door arrest operations by the IDF, said Nimrod Novik, a former senior Israeli diplomat and government security advisor, told the NYT.
In an emergency cabinet meeting at a military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Netanyahu said Israel was now readying itself to “demolish Hamas” in Gaza.
“Hamas thought we would be demolished. It is we who will demolish Hamas,” the Israeli prime minister said, Reuters reported.
He added that it sent “a clear message to the nation, the enemy, and the world.”
But Alex Younger, the head of the UK’s MI6 foreign intelligence service from 2014 to 2020, told the BBC’s “The Today Podcast” that Hamas had likely intended to lure Israel into a costly ground offensive, as Insider previously reported.
“You shouldn’t do what your enemy wants you to do,” Younger said. “And it’s really obvious now that Hamas is essentially laying a trap for Israel.”
The group “will be well pleased if Israel commits itself to an open-ended, full-scale ground invasion of Gaza because of the scale and intensity of conflict that would entail, and the loss of innocent life that would inevitably follow and the radicalization that would engender, and the extent to which will put Israel’s allies and partners in the region in an impossible position,” he added.