When asked about what’s going through the mind of a soldier in an urban environment, Hamish says: 

Well, the urban environment is probably the most challenging environment to fight in. The challenge is if you imagine a soldier is wearing a helmet and body armor, maybe ear protection, eye protection, and carrying quite a lot of weight, your sort of 360 degree awareness is quite constricted.

I remember in my time with the Peshmerga when we were fighting ISIS, particularly in built up areas like Mosul, the Peshmerga went very much for minimal self protection, as it were, because they wanted a greater vision and agility and ability to move. 

And the advantage is always very much in the defender. So the Hamas terrorists defending areas of Gaza City and elsewhere… will know the ground intimately, and the ability to put mines all over the place is relatively easy for them. It’s an absolute nightmare for the soldier attacking. 

Reflecting on whether the battle will move to Hamas’ sprawling underground tunnel network: 

I know that the Israelis have battalions of special forces who are trained in this particular environment. But Hamas know these tunnels intimately, it will be very easy to put rudimentary and sophisticated traps all over the place.

And again, with a lot of the information intelligence coming out of Gaza, be it from Hamas or being from the IDF,  one has to be pretty circumspect about it because both sides are playing the information game for their own advantage.  But a very senior retired Israeli general has said that the IDF would not get involved in a tunnel warfare.

And it would appear that what the IDF are doing is identifying the tunnel entrances and then blocking them up and sealing the Hamas fighters down there. Now, the natural question is, well, if the hostages are underground, how is that going to evolve?

There are two very distinct battles going on at the moment, above ground and underground, and we know very little of the underground. 

Battle Lines, a new podcast from The Telegraph, combines on the ground reporting with analytical expertise to aid the listener in better understanding the conflict. 

Listen to Battle Lines using the audio player in this article or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, or your favourite podcast app.

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