Alongside efforts to discover and destroy Hamas terror tunnels, and to counter the terrorist organization’s efforts to improve its ability to attack Israel using commando divers, the IDF is employing AquaShield™, a cutting-edge sensor system that scans Israel’s coast.
During the 2014 Gaza conflict, Hamas underwater Special Forces managed to reach Israel’s shores at Zikim beach, between Ashkelon and the northern Gaza Strip, and engaged IDF forces in a battle.
916 Navy Squadron Commander Lieutenant Colonel Liav Silverman, spoke to IDF Radio about the “blue tunnel” threat, as attempts to enter Israel from the sea are referred as.
“The blue tunnel, this ‘underwater tunnel,’ is extremely challenging defensively,” he said. “Any attempt by the enemy to develop the capacity for diving and sailing, is challenging above and under water.”
For this reason and to counter this threat, the IDF has developed a system called AquaShield™, comprised of numerous sensor systems on the bottom of the sea across the maritime border with Gaza.
Following Operation Protective Edge and the terrorist encroachment at Zikim Beach, the IDF has invested in strengthening the communication and cooperation between the Navy and the Infantry Gaza Division.
Deputy Commander of the Northern Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Asaf Hamami told IDF Radio, that the IDF wants “civilians to be able to come here [the beach]. We don’t want to disturb the civilians, as far as we’re concerned they should continue with their lives. When we see tourists and swimmers here, in Banana Beach, it means I fulfilled my mission. We’re not influenced by fear, we will know how to protect them with our forces are in the area.”
Hamami says you can see the Hamas divers training, and the size of the unit has increased significantly since the summer of 2014. “We see them in training, their entire range of training, including diving and shooting.”
Both officers believe in the military’s ability to come up with a technological response to the challenge from the sea.
Silverman expects these systems to provide a reliable alert “as soon as the enemy dives down and even earlier, when it is just getting organized to go diving.” He notes that this includes “an enormous investment in weapons on our vessels, which enable me to reach and deal with any situation involving divers or swimmers.”
In September 2014, DSIT Solutions, a subsidiary of Acorn Energy, announced that “a leading Mediterranean navy” has placed an order for its AquaShield™ Diver Detection Sonar (DDS) system, which guards the underwater perimeter of strategic coastal assets.
DSIT’s Shield family of underwater security systems includes three main types of diver detection solutions: the AquaShield ER™ SDV Detection Sonar (SDS), the AquaShield™ Diver Detection Sonar (DDS) and the PointShield™ Portable Diver Detection Sonar (PDDS). All of the systems support fully automatic operation with high probability of detection and low false-alarm rate.