December 30, 2023 | The Jerusalem Post

IDF ‘Ghost’ unit uses new tech to fight Hamas in Gaza

The ‘Post’ spent an afternoon with Israel’s new elite multi-dimensional unit in Jabalya, as it neutralizes terrorist threats and works with the latest technology
December 30, 2023 | The Jerusalem Post

IDF ‘Ghost’ unit uses new tech to fight Hamas in Gaza

The ‘Post’ spent an afternoon with Israel’s new elite multi-dimensional unit in Jabalya, as it neutralizes terrorist threats and works with the latest technology

Israel’s new multi-dimensional “Ghost” unit is active in Gaza fighting terrorists using the latest technology.

This past week, The Jerusalem Post had a chance to spend an afternoon with the unit on the Gaza border and also inside the Strip in Jabalya as it conducts its mission against terrorists.

In Jabalya refugee camp, the soldiers had taken over several buildings where they were monitoring the neighborhood and collecting information using drones and other new technologies. The unit directed a tank to neutralize a threat in a building and used precision mortars against the enemy.

The multi-dimensional unit was created in 2019 as part of the IDF’s larger plan, known as Momentum, to bring more technology to frontline forces.

This meant knitting together infantry units with combat engineers, armored units and also the air force, so that all these forces could work seamlessly together and bring the most effective firepower to the front as fast as possible.

The Ghost unit is part of the 99th division, which combines these elements. In 2020, the new multi-dimensional unit was deployed to the northern border. In 2022 it trained with other elements of the division in Tze’elim for the kind of warfare they are facing now in Gaza.

Members of the unit fell during the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel. Col. Roi Levy, the unit’s commander, was killed in battle near Re’im. Members of the unit also helped liberate Kibbutz Be’eri.

The unit has lost three other members in battles since that Black Saturday. Now the Ghosts have been able to bring the fight to the enemy inside Gaza. The IDF said on December 24 that in Jabalya, “soldiers, in cooperation with the Multidimensional Unit and the Yahalom Unit, exposed a strategic tunnel network that served as Hamas’s northern headquarters in Gaza.”

The military also said on December 18 that the Multidimensional Unit helped uncover a terrorist cash stash in a house in Jabalya of some NIS 5 million. The 99th division has also killed hundreds of terrorists.

Entering Gaza with the ‘Ghosts’

To prepare to go into Gaza with the Ghosts, we arrived at a field near the border with the coastal enclave. The fields have turned a lush green because of the winter rains. However, the fighting casts a shadow.

As we prepared to move into Gaza, there was a red alert and sirens; mortars fell in the field nearby. Since the Ghosts is an elite infantry unit that also uses new technology, it tries to be both a combat unit and to harness information to bring in air strikes and coordinate other missions as fast as possible.

For instance, the new Iron Sting precision mortar system was used to target terrorists during our time with the forces. In addition, small drones are constantly being cycled in and out of Gaza. These drones can act in swarms or as a group to gather information. IDF units like this also provide feedback to the companies that make this technology, such as Elbit Systems.

A Namer armored personnel carrier would be our transport into Jabalya. We packed into the iron belly of the APC and the door sealed us in. From then on we could only hear the churning of the vehicle treads, as we ascended into the heart of Jabalya. This unit was also previously active in Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021.

The unit has killed at least 86 terrorists in Gaza, part of the larger number eliminated by the 99th division and other units fighting in Jabalya.

Using new technologies fighting in Jabalya

The fighting in Jabalya combines new technology with the old methods of warfare that have worked for hundreds of years. For instance, the unit coordinated with tanks to neutralize a threat in a building 100 meters from our position. The tank fire destroyed a room, and machine gun fire completed the job. Drones were also used by the unit to monitor the situation.

This shows that it combines drones with precision and knits together intelligence to bring in air strikes quickly, while using manpower on the ground to clear areas, bit by bit. Units like the Ghosts have brought the technology that would make wars more efficient and firepower more effective, to defeat enemies faster.

To maximize that goal, the IDF will need to integrate this kind of technology on a much larger scale – while the fighters act as a test bed for the new tech.

Seth Frantzman is the author of Drone Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machine, Artificial Intelligence and the Battle for the Future (Bombardier 2021) and an adjunct fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


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