In a recent audio message, Abu Obeida, spokesperson for the Qassam Brigades, said that their fighters had struck 160 Israeli armored vehicles in the first two weeks of Israel’s ground operations in Gaza.
The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, have released continuous field reports detailing their defense of Gaza – often more than two dozen per day – which record the style of attack and general location along the three main axes of fighting: in the northeast and northwest of the strip, and southeast of Gaza City.
They have also released numerous videos recorded by their fighters that show Israeli military vehicles being hit by Gaza-made anti-tank weapons, often from close distances.
The anti-tank weapon, known as a Yassin, is a locally-adapted, shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenade launcher with a Gaza-made warhead, named after the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
The Qassam Brigades officially unveiled the Yassin and showed the mass production of the warhead in an underground workshop in the first days of the war, underscoring the group’s domestic weapons manufacturing capabilities.Since then, the anti-tank weapon has been a steady feature of the resistance against Israeli military vehicles including Merkava tanks, armored troop carriers and the D9 armored bulldozers that have streamed into the Gaza Strip.
Israeli military vehicles are fitted with active protection systems, a countermeasure that detects incoming rounds by radar and launches defensive projectiles. These projectiles are designed to detonate the rocket before it hits the vehicle’s armored shell.
The Yassin warhead is a tandem-charge warhead modeled after a late-Soviet-era anti-tank rocket that is designed to detonate twice: the first-charge sets off the reactive armor and the second, larger charge follows.
Watch the video above for my in-depth commentary on the Yassin rockets and Israeli armored vehicles, recorded during our livestream broadcast on 13 November.
Israeli military vehicles out of service
It’s not clear how many of these Israeli armored vehicles are put out of service by the Yassin strikes shown in the Qassam Brigades videos.
But they are clearly having an impact.
The commander of the Israeli military’s maintenance corps, Brigadier General Ariel Shima, confirmed that severely damaged and entirely disabled armored vehicles have been taken out of the battle, but claimed that the vast majority can be returned to the fight after repairs.
In the Israeli military’s daily briefing on 9 November, spokesperson Daniel Hagari said “those tanks that are damaged and those bulldozers that are damaged … are repaired very quickly in the field.”
Hagari asserted that “90 percent of our tools are fit for combat.”
The armored vehicles have been central to Israel’s first stages of its ground operations.
According to the most recent arms industry data, the Israeli military has about 700 total armored personnel carriers and tanks in their inventory that they have deemed suitable for fighting in Gaza.
Considering the amount of Israeli armor committed to the northern border with Lebanon, as well as those tanks and troop carriers in the West Bank, the Israeli military and the Qassam Brigades would appear to be suggesting reasonably comparable battle reports about the impact of the Gaza-made weapons on the invading force’s armored vehicles.
Notably, the Israeli military has not been forthcoming with their casualty counts.
Israel reports deaths sometimes days later, not offering overall numbers or wounded tallies.
Barely a week into the fighting inside Gaza, the Israeli military reported on a combat-medic unit, saying that the unit alone had carried out medical evacuations for 260 injured troops.
No comprehensive casualty tally has been offered by the Israeli military in any forum since the beginning of the ground invasion.