Israel Navy closely watching Hamas force build up, preparing for underwater threats from Gaza

Analysis: Intelligence gathered by Navy off coast of Gaza helps IDF prepare counter-measure to Hamas's planned surprises.

Shayetet 13 naval commandos‏ (photo credit: IDF)
Shayetet 13 naval commandos‏
(photo credit: IDF)
The Israel Navy is keeping a close eye on Hamas in Gaza as the terrorist organization busily rebuilds its offensive capabilities, which now appear to include a potential to wage underwater combat.
If fighting breaks out with Hamas, the IDF assesses that the Islamist organization would likely seek to surprise Israel from multiple directions, including from the sea. The IDF feels it must prepare, accordingly, for a wide range of possible seaborne assaults, including bomb-laden boat attacks.
The Israel Navy has been developing swift underwater detection and alert systems in the event that Hamas divers, such as the sea commando unit that went into action during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, were to be employed again.
The navy’s focus on confronting underwater threats is remarkable considering how seaborne combat was almost unheard of on the southern coast before 2014, and commanders have been busy in recent months developing ways to contain the threat.
New weapons are being loaded onto naval vessels, designed to destroy a submerged enemy.
Meanwhile, the Navy’s 916 Squadron is carrying out continuous patrols of the Gaza coast. Its vessels are tasked with gathering intelligence on what goes on in the Hamas-run territory.
The squadron has seen Hamas carry out rocket-firing experiments, in which projectiles are launched into the Mediterranean Sea, to test them after they come off of Gaza’s domestic weapons-production lines.
The navy does not appear to have noticed anything unusual in the range of the latest rocket trials, or in their frequency.
Additionally, Hamas has not been aiming for Israel’s offshore gas drilling platforms.
Instead, it is working to restock spent supplies and ensure that the new rockets work, IDF sources say.
The IDF has been closely following Hamas’s force buildup closely so as to develop its own counter-measures, which include adapting weapons systems and tweaking battle doctrines to match emerging threats.
The Navy, for its part, can be assumed to be improving its sea-to-shore missile-strike capability with longer ranges and increased accuracy.
This branch of the IDF remains keen on integrating itself with the ground forces and IAF, and to bring its sea-based firepower to bear accurately in any conflict.