Israel Deploys Robots to Clear Hamas Tunnels

Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system isn’t the only high-tech hardware the country’s military is deploying in its latest fight against the Islamist militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Israel Defense Forces have for the first time deployed an unmanned ground vehicle known as the Micro Tactical Ground Robot made by Tel Aviv-based Roboteam to scour underground tunnels for Hamas-controlled weapons caches and command posts, according to an article by Barbara Opall-Rome of Defense News.

The portable, remote-controlled system weighs about 20 pounds and has a maximum speed of 2 miles per hour, range of about 1,600 feet and battery life of four hours. Outfitted with five cameras, an internal microphone and infrared laser pointers, the machine can collect and relay encrypted information.

The company’s website touts that the ISR model “is currently used by Special Forces, tactical and urban warfare units.”

Roboteam, which has a U.S. subsidiary based in Bethesda, Maryland, earlier this month won a competition to build more than a 100 of the units — just a couple of weeks into Israel’s ground assault into Gaza, known as Operation Protective Edge, according to the report.

A spokeswoman for the company in the U.S. didn’t immediately respond to a telephone request seeking more information about the product.

The three-week-old conflict between Israeli and Palestinian fighters has killed more than 1,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, while Israel has lost almost 50 soldiers, according to an article in The Washington Post, citing United Nations figures.

The fighting shows no signs of abating. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned of a protracted battle. “We will not finish the mission, we will not finish the operation, without neutralizing the tunnels,” he said in a televised address, the Post reported.

Under a $16 million, 40-month project with the Pentagon’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, Roboteam will supply 100 of the units to special operations forces and EOD technicians, and another 35 units to domestic agencies, according to the office’s website.

Users include Army Special Operations Command, Naval Special Warfare Command, FBI-Hostage Rescue Team, Border Patrol Special Operations Group, Marine Corps Combat Engineer Schoolhouse, Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Fire Department of New York, according to the office’s website.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Rob

    It’s all futile. Leaders have fled to neighbor countries. They refuse to surrender, or to accept peace. They are supported by people across globe too. Even governments that are allied with us like Qatar. . 5 years, new tunnels will be done. Even cleared tunnels will be reopened. There is no solution for this issue and may never be. Pray for change. All we can do.

    • hibeam

      There is a solution. The terrorists are not evolving. The robots are evolving. The robots will continue to get smaller, more capable and more lethal. At some point the robots dominate and civilization will return to Gaza.

      • Stan

        Which civilisation, hibeam? That of settler-colonists and occupation forces?

        • blight_asdf

          The machines, of course.

    • Joe

      one man one vote. end the apartheid. a new constitution where no one is discriminated by race or religion. destroy all WMD. truth and reconcilliation commissions and punish all responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity. integrated security forces.

      just like south africa, just like rhodesia, just like south west africa. and embargos until agreements can be made.

      • Musson

        In Israel, Arab born citizens vote. 10% of the Knessit is arab.

        • blight_asdf

          I wonder what would happen if they offered Israeli citizenship to select groups of Palestinians.


          It might not be the “right of return” imagined by Palestinians, but a two-state solution is a farce. Look at South Sudan: it has no connection to the sea and will always be suzerain to Sudan proper, even if it does have the oil. One state is the only solution.

          The sectarian risk of merging two states into one is clear: there’s a lot of bad blood between both sides. Before the security wall came up it was frequent suicide bombings, which underlies the risk of a one-state solution.

        • Gar


    • NMI

      Solution: As Ripley said “Nuke `em from orbit. It’s the only way to know for sure!”

      • Gar

        Nuke which? U refer to Israel of course!

    • Love Israel

      Use waterways or moat to separate Gaza with outside.
      Water will penetrate all the holes and tunnels making them useless. You can use dynamite sticks to blow up holes deep enough for waterways to surround Gaza. Where some places are at lower altitude you can direct water from Mediterranean Sea. Where some places are higher altitude you can make ponds and lakes to gather water from wadi. Bombs and missiles can only stop one tunnel at a time and cost too many resources to find them. With waterways and moats and lakes and ponds, water will flow and leak to wherever tunnels are and fill them quickly. It would be much easier to patrol the water surface then tunnels beneath the earth and stop any convoy and terrorist penetration.

  • Joe

    so the hamas hide behind people, israelis hide behind their technology. hamas cowards - israeli fearless.


    • Musson

      Are you saying that you would rather go into the tunnel then send a robot?

      There is a big difference between fearless and stupid.

      • Joe_the_Nipper

        Hell, send that idiot first in!

    • Guest

      So using human shields is the same thing as using a machine to search tunnels?


      • Joe

        so the hamas guys should stand up so the israelis can shoot them? neither side is or has been especially moral in that conflict. debating the difference between israel and their opposition is like debating virtues between whores.

    • Gar

      Which was the bravest? David or Goliath? How sad. Israel has become its own oppressor. Gaza = Warsaw ghetto. Israel lost the moral imperative. I was a fan. No more!! How brave they are.., hiding in their tanks & dropping 2000 pound bombs on civilians. Killing more than 1000 old men, women & children. Three Israel civilians dead. Israeli lives are worth how much more than the rest of humanity? Such arrogance. They have become monsters and their own worse nightmare. They are practicing genocide. They must stop this uneven, unfair, and immoral domination of the original residents of Palestine. All in the name of the same god of Abraham and land!!!!!’n



    • Dov

      The israelis have their own history of using human shields.

  • Ben

    At the risk of sounding like a troll: This is newsworthy?

    Seriously, this bot is super oldschool. Basic cameras, speakers, short range, snail speed… I thought militaries have been doing this stuff for the past decade. I

    • miles

      What are you expecting R2-D2 or Johnny 5?

      • Ben

        Something half resembling the bots competing in the DARPA challenges?

    • Mitch S.

      The news is that the Israelis are only beginning to deploy these.
      I would have figured by now the IDF would have anticipated the kind of ground situations they might face and already have a large collection of robots to do these jobs.
      Bet those IDF soldiers told to go into those tunnels are wondering the same thing.

      Then again, every time I hear a story about some patrol in Afghanistan rounding a turn and getting ambushed I wonder where are those neat drones and other tech we keep reading about.



    • SJE

      1. capturing weapons and people etc gives better intelligence for the IDF
      2. Flooding with seawater does not destroy the tunnels
      3. Flooding with seawater pollutes the aquifers that are central to both Israel and Gaza’s water.

      • blight_asdf

        Israel is a world leader in desal…so it might not be too bad.

        I suppose using Gaza tunnels to recharge the aquifers (flood with fresh water) might be a hilarious way to kill two birds with one stone.

        • bart hooliman

          flood them and watch the rats come scrambling out

  • Rob

    look at it this way… Israel/Palestine is no bigger then New york city geogrpahically. and neither side can be fully wiped out without breaking Geneva convention. Citizens & government officials on both sides exist in many many other countries. Palestinians will not surrender ever and even if kill all their militia, they will raise their children to fill the boots.

  • Ski Fast!

    There is a running joke in Israel right now that they should just bring all the captured terrorists to Jerusalem: in just a couple of years the city will finally have a completed subway system :]

  • stephen russell

    equip with miniguns, grenade launcher then
    Or allow IDF users above to map tunnels then plant charges.
    Or lay spikes, in comes Hamas to tunnel then Ooops found spikes.

  • Bruce

    My father fought in North Africa during WWII. When the Arabs weren’t killing Germans they were killing each other! If you gave the country to the Palestinians they would be killing each other, as to what group would be in control! My Dad felt we should never get involved in the middle east. That was in 1965.. In 1967-1968 I served in Vietnam.. Our Country wants to use our military as social architect’s. Winning the hearts and minds of the people. Why does that sound familiar?

    • bart hooliman

      remember when hamas was throwing other Palestinians of roofs to their deaths because they were from a different political party.

      • Dov

        Remember when fatah did the same?

  • John fedup

    ….China owns us all!

  • Arthur

    The end game is Israel will destroy all tunnels and disarmed Hamas, then bomb all Iranian nuclear sites….. “The world is burning, while Obama is golfing”….

    • hibeam

      “FORE!” more years of incompetence. Well two anyway.

  • Ed C

    your name says it all, welcome to the new holocaust you prick.

  • Joe_the_Nipper

    exactly! and that’s why Obama and Netanyahu are soooo coszy…

    Merkst Du was, Trottel?

  • K0jmv

    Gee, it looks like a robot that Ed Wilson and his pals would have sold to anyone over there.

  • Tinyyip

    Soaking up Hamas’ rockets before hitting Iran might be on the agenda as well. Leaving the Lebanon border to concentrate Iron Dome on … if Hezbollah retaliates.

  • Jake

    Nice anti-Jewish diatribe you got going there. You’re hitting all the high notes at once. Why don’t you slow down and tell us the one about Jews baking Arab blood into their matzas.

  • Jake

    Israel has Egyptian and Saudi backing in this operation. They too are dealing with Islamic radicals like Hamas and they too have Iran on the agenda. Not to mention, Obama’s love for terrorist-sponsoring Qatar and Turkey’s Hitlerite leader, isn’t winning him any friends. Egyptian military just countered a CIA sponsored coup with a coup of their own, and Saudi Arabia knows that they are next in line if they don’t derail the process. Thus they are even willing to tacitly cooperate with Israel to counter the budding US-Iranian axis. On a side note, I find it interesting that Europe is rife with anti-Semitism while Cairo and Riyadh have seen virtually zero protests. Maybe the much needed Jewish-Arab Alliance is finally forming. Such an alliance, free from outside interference, is the only hope for the Middle East.

  • conradswims

    Hamas was just mining for gold! Honest!



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