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New 5th-gen Israeli Merkava tank proves itself in battles against Hamas in Gaza

Israeli tanks operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

The fifth generation of Israel’s vaunted Merkava battle tank was only introduced to the IDF's Armored Corps in September, just weeks before the Hamas invasion and massacre of more than 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7.

At the time, few believed the advanced tank would be used in battle within such a short period of time. However, the Israel's new Merkava tank has proven to be an efficient and invaluable defense platform in Israel' ongoing ground operations against Hamas inside the Gaza Strip.

Initially developed and introduced in the late 1970s, the Merkava tank is widely considered one of the best battle tanks in the world. The fifth-generation Merkava Barak tank is equipped with cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence capabilities that have been proven critical in Gaza's dense urban warfare environment.

According to Globes: “One of the interesting aspects of the Barak tank is that information processing is individually adapted to the person in command. For example, the perspective of the brigade commander is broader, and less concerned with micro-tactics. On the other hand, when an anti-tank shell is fired at a single tank, the focus of immediate attention is the anti-tank launcher. The diversity of combat situations and the various roles is a significant key. In battle, the professionals define the Barak tank as a technological leap forward when it comes to sensors, fusion and accessibility of information while connecting to all the weapon systems."

The performance of the new tanks on the battlefield in Gaza is being monitored by teams from the Ministry of Defense Merkava and Armored Vehicles to study their operations and real time and improve their performance accordingly.

The IDF's Brig.-Gen. Oren Giber, commanding general of the Israeli Merkava and Armored Vehicles Directorate, told Globes that Israel always aims to be ahead of the enemy.

“We are undergoing a learning curve over the years against an enemy that is trying to find the weak points in the IDF military; it doesn't happen in a day but we constantly try to be several steps ahead of them,” Giber said.

“This process is a deep and smart over many years and today the learning curve continues even amidst the war when it is more relevant than ever,” he added.

The main reason Israel has had comparatively low casualties during the war in Gaza, despite an unprecedented amount of anti-tank fire from Hamas, is the advanced radar system used in the tank. The radar system, produced by Israel Aerospace Industries unit Elta Systems, provides the tank with highly efficient 360-degree protection and is considered so effective that 2,000 such systems have been sold to various governments, including four divisions of the U.S. Abrams tank, as well as the German Leopard and the British Challenger tanks.

According to Giber, the State of Israel has the best systems in the world and a recent track record to prove it.

“When we hand over, to the IDF soldiers, the tank or the Tiger or Eitan APCs that we developed for them, there is a feeling that you have put your greatest treasure in their hands,” Giber said.

“We look at this armor with reverence because we are designing it for IDF soldiers. So we spare no effort and do everything possible to ensure that we have given them the best and most protected armament possible," he added.

"You have to understand, the anti-tank shell threats confronting tanks and armored vehicles in the current war are enormous; I don't think anyone has seen anything like it before. The IDF's decision to provide its fighters with platforms that has a level of protection and durability that has no equal in the world, has proven itself.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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