The Israeli Navy's 'Silent Commandos' in Gaza

The IDF may be primarily using airstrikes to hit Hamas and other terrorists, but the navy is playing a significant role of its own.

Kobi Finkler, Tova Dvorin ,

Israeli navy commandos in action (archive)
Israeli navy commandos in action (archive)

The IAF may have worked tirelessly to crush more than 1,750 terror targets in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge began nine days ago - but a host of other units have quietly been working to protect Israeli civilians as well. 

A senior officer from General Staff stated Wednesday afternoon that several IDF land and naval units have also been deeply involved in the operation, helping not only in"behind-the-scenes" work like intelligence, but also to help demolish terror tunnels and attack targets by sea. 

"From the beginning of this war and even earlier, we were prepared for the possibility of a marine invasion by members of Hamas's naval commando," the officer, who asked to remain anonymous, told Arutz Sheva.

He referred to the failed attempt by Hamas terrorists to infiltrate an Israeli kibbutz last week. 

"Hamas divers swam in the [Mediterranean] sea for two kilometers," he said. "Once they made it out of the water and landed on the beach, the IDF identified them, and notified air, land, and naval forces; a short time later, they were eliminated." 

He also referred to the actions of the Shayetet unit and other naval brigades who have worked to eliminate several terror targets in Gaza since the operation began. 

"We do many things on the ground to gather information on rocket launch sites, headquarters, and terrorists working from the field - something that we cannot do only from the air," he reflected. "There are dozens of places where terrorists have launchers hidden in orchards, mosques, and homes; only by physically going in can we expose them." 

When asked whether there was a possibility of additional weapons being smuggled in by sea en masse - a la the Klos C weapons ship from Iran apprehended earlier this year - the official answered in the negative. However, he did say that small fishing boats could be capable of weapons smuggling. 

In the nine days since Operation Protective Edge began, the IDF has hit 1,752 terror targets in Gaza - 100 of them in the past 24 hours.

In total, 1,261 rockets have been launched at Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad; of those, 984 hit Israeli soil and 228 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. 

The IDF is reportedly currently weighing the possibility of launching a limited ground offensive to root-out rocket fire and terrorist positions which can't be effectively reached by air.