The Israel Defense Force (IDF) recently publicized footage of weapons seized from Hamas, revealing a diverse array of rockets, missiles, mines, and grenades. Significantly, specific recordings, including those from news outlets Ynetnews and MSNBC, displayed what appeared to be explosively formed penetrator (EFP) improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
John Spencer, Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute, and a retired US Army officer recognized the EFP IEDs commented on their potential danger. “The @IDF might confront a threat in Gaza we constantly feared in Iraq: the Iranian-engineered EFP IED,” he remarked on a popular social media platform.
EFP IEDs are distinct in appearance and have a unique design with a concave disc positioned atop a smaller explosive. They rose to infamy during the Iraq War, notorious for their capacity to inflict extensive damage on vehicles and personnel.
Evidence suggests that Hamas either manufactured these weapons internally or obtained them externally, possibly from a source like Iran.
EFPs are specialized roadside IEDs, typically constructed with machined copper integrated into commonplace objects. Their use was notably extensive by Iranian-backed Shiite militias after the US’s 2003 Iraq invasion.
Qassem Soleimani, a notable Iranian General, had equipped Iraqi militias with EFPs and provided training. The US held him responsible for the deaths of numerous American troops, leading to his elimination in a drone strike several years ago.
EFPs work by propelling a heated copper disc, referred to as a “slug,” at high speeds, making them lethal even from a distance. In Iraq, US troops reported the devastating effects of these explosives as they pierced armored vehicles, scattering copper shards at incredible velocities.
Their inconspicuous design makes EFPs particularly menacing. They can easily be mistaken for ordinary objects, and their plans can be frequently altered to overcome defensive measures.
Combining underestimating the enemy and these deadly IEDs posed significant challenges for the US in Iraq. If Hamas possesses these weapons, their urban battleground, rife with potential ambushes, could prove dangerous for IDF personnel.
Spencer, however, believes that the IDF will likely draw from its extensive experience to confront such threats, citing its previous encounters with other adversaries, including the Iran-supported Hezbollah.
Following Hamas’s recent attacks, which resulted in significant casualties, the IDF has intimated its plans to initiate a full-fledged invasion of Gaza. As IDF airstrikes continue, the challenges of urban warfare, like EFPs concealed within the debris, tunnel systems, and roads, loom large, emphasizing the considerable risks IDF troops might encounter in upcoming operations.