A few days ago, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said, Israeli Navy personnel identified suspicious activity in the northern area of the Gaza Strip, close to the coastal infrastructures of the naval force of Hamas. Navy troops, assisted by intelligence, conducted surveillance of a number of members of the naval force and their movements. On Monday (May 17), the forces identified a weapon, suspected of being a submersible vessel, which was taken in the direction of the beach by members of the unit, and was apparently going to be sent to carry out a mission in Israel's maritime area.
A Navy force and aircraft attacked the members of the unit in their vehicle, as well as the small submarine, and eliminated them. Following the incident, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said for the first time that Hamas has unmanned submarines that operate autonomously and navigate using GPS systems. These small submarines are equipped with a warhead with 50kg of explosives. After the submarines are launched, they navigate themselves to their targets and blow up.
The research and development organization of Hamas has been trying for a number of years to develop unmanned vessels that will be operated by the Hamas naval force. It can be seen that there are two types of unmanned vessels that Hamas is trying to develop. One type is a surface vessel, namely a converted speedboat or fishing boat that is either remote controlled or programmed to operate autonomously.
The purpose of these vessels during times of calm is to collect intelligence on Israeli forces, while in times of conflict they are intended for use with a large amount of explosives against Navy ships and gas platforms, serving as suicide vessels that are operated remotely using wireless or cellular communications. These vessels are equipped with technology such as radar and cameras that enable them to be controlled remotely and steered toward their targets.
The second type of vessel is the submersible or semi-submersible vessel called a glider. This kind of vessel has the capability to remain underwater or at a low point above the waves so that the Navy's ability to locate it is very limited. This kind of vessel is used for missions similar to those of unmanned ships.
The R&D organization of Hamas aims to obtain knowledge, systems and technologies for development and manufacturing of such vessels based on Iranian knowledge, academic research that can be obtained on the internet, and professional literature. But it does so mainly on the basis of reverse engineering and upgrade of commercial autonomous vessels that can be acquired freely for maritime research purposes, and even on relevant sites on the internet.
The Iranians are very advanced in development of unmanned autonomous vessels, and in Iran these kinds of vessels are displayed from time to time. These kinds of vessels have even been used in recent years for suicide attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels against Saudi Navy vessels.
Hamas and Hezbollah understand that in naval warfare, their forces are technologically inferior to those of Israel. In order to deal with such naval warfare, the naval forces of the two terrorist organizations are developing a doctrine and weaponry including a wide variety of rockets, cruise missiles, naval mines, speedboats and unmanned vessels. The combination of such means in an attack, namely a swarm attack, will enable them, in their view, to overcome their inferiority on the naval battlefield against Israel.
The battle against Hamas and Hezbollah has continued in the naval domain, but it has received little coverage by the media. Hamas and Hezbollah understand that the sea is a main artery of the State of Israel, and they have set a goal of attacking the country's vital infrastructure at sea and on the coast. Thus there are likely to be bolder and more sophisticated attacks by terrorist organizations against that infrastructure.