How to Detect ‘Terror Tunnels’? Israel’s Tech & Military Industries Hurry Up — Mexico, Korea Visited & Russian Technology was Tried
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) insist that the military has been aware, for some time, of the severe danger that Hamas tunnels from Gaza might pose.
IDF briefers have just revealed — without revealing when this occurred — that Israeli experts were dispatched on unannounced trips to countries that had experience with tunnels: Mexico, where smugglers of drugs and illegal immigrants used tunnels leading into the United States; and Korea, where the South’s military had discovered many intricate and solid tunnels built by the Communist North to prepare for a possible invasion in the future — threatening South Korea’s capital, Seoul.
The IDF even obtained and “test drove” a Russian-made radar system which is aimed down, into the ground, so that underground caves, tunnels, movements and sounds can be detected. But it seemed to work only to a depth of 3 or 4 meters (about ten feet), so that wasn’t good enough.
Israel’s reconnaissance satellites also attempted to detect piles of soil, or changes in topography that might indicate tunnels. But that did not work.
Israeli military and electronics manufacturers are now working quickly to develop appropriate technologies.
One approach would depend on acoustics — a form of radar that’s familiar to pregnant couples who see an “ultrasound picture” of their unborn child in the womb. The other method would involve seismic detection – receiving an alert from vibrations below the Earth’s surface.
A critic, a retired colonel who is a geologist (Yossi Langotzki), says there is no need to re-invent the wheel, because seismic detection would be an approach ready to use right now. He says the existing seismic technology (used in the oil and mining industries) could be quite useful. Why waste time and money, Langotzki wonders, developing radar-based products that probably could not be ready for use for another two years or so?
As for how Hamas’s tunnels are destroyed after they are discovered by Israel – so far, 32 tunnels — the military is preventing full disclosure of its method for making them unuseable. It may be said with certainty, however, that they are not simply “blown up” with explosives — not all the tunnels. There are various ways of filling or blocking them.
The New York Times reported in February 2013 that Egypt was making tunnels from Gaza impassable — or too disgusting to use — by flooding them with raw sewage which could be piped-in or trucked-in from elsewhere.