As fears of an unprecedented Israeli ground invasion of Gaza grow, the Israel Defense Forces have reportedly deployed scores of heavily armored Namer (Leopard) armored personnel carriers (APCs) to Road 232, all equipped with Trophy Active Protection Systems, making them one of the most protected APCs in the world.
As the video showing the movement of these vehicles to the battlefront surfaced on social media, there were speculations that these vehicles would likely be used to facilitate the movement of Israel’s ground forces into Gaza.
The famous Road 232 is an Israeli highway that runs parallel to the blockaded Gaza Strip and appears to have evolved into the new de facto frontier between territory controlled by Israel and Hamas. The latter, an Islamist movement, had launched a surprise attack on the former on October 7.
Several Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) accounts that track weapon systems in warzones published videos of the Namer APC saying that the vehicles were unloaded from the flatbeds at night and dispatched to Road 232 in southern Israel. This would be in addition to the massive APC-column build-up seen on videos over the weekend, signaling that an invasion may be launched anytime.
The movement of Namer APCs, touted as “reinforcement” ahead of an imminent invasion, comes more than a week after Hamas gunmen launched an attack on Israel. Moreover, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on October 14 that its troops were getting ready to carry out a variety of operational offensive measures as it ravages the densely populated Gaza Strip with air strikes.
“Namer” APCs with the Israeli Defense Force are seen being Unloaded tonight from Flatbeds on Route 232 in Southern Israel near the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/qzbNwxUttP
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) October 15, 2023
The Israeli military said in a statement that its personnel have been spread nationwide to increase operational preparedness for the war’s upcoming phases, “emphasizing significant ground operations.” The threat of an Israeli occupation has rattled the international community, which has warned against it.
Despite being the staunchest ally of Israel, US President Joe Biden warned Tel Aviv that any occupation of Gaza would be a “big mistake” at an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which aired on October 15. The Gaza Strip is currently undergoing a humanitarian crisis after Israel launched a retaliatory attack on the enclave, declared war, and put it under total siege.
Massive mechanized armored group of the IDF in anticipation of a ground operation in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/7SLl95saK0
— Clash Report (@clashreport) October 14, 2023
However, despite the warnings against the contrary, the IDF has amassed hundreds of tanks and military vehicles along the Gaza Border. This has made the movement of Namer Armored Personnel Carriers towards the border more concerning. When Hamas first launched an attack, several tanks of the IDF were destroyed, and their crews were captured.
Hamas captured at least one Namer APC and some other military vehicles as they entered Israel after breaching the border and overran the Israeli army base in Nakhal Oz.
As concerns about ground operations inside Gaza mount, several military analysts have emphasized the role that the Namer APCs would play if the IDF troops were to march inside Gaza. The Namer, initially based on the chassis of an IDF Merkava tank, is projected as the best in Israel’s arsenal and was also deployed along the Gaza Strip in 2021.
What Do We Know About Israel’s Namer APC?
The Namer, a Leopard heavy armored personnel carrier, has been a significant element of the IDF modernization plan. Weighing around 70 tons, the Merkava Mk.4 main battle tank chassis is the foundation for the Namer’s design.
It currently ranks among the most protected APCs in the world, and one of the most distinctive features of this vehicle is that it gives soldiers the same amount of protection and mobility as the most modern main battle tanks.
The Meil Ruach active defense system, often known as Trophy and modular armor, is installed aboard the Namer. An active protection system is used as a fundamental component for the first time. Additionally, the vehicle is equipped with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression equipment. It provides an equivalent level of security to the Merkava Mk.4.
In 2015, Israel’s defense ministry stated: “The Namer is considered the most protected armored combat vehicle in the world, which proved its abilities during fighting in Operation Protective Edge against many threats.”
The Israeli Defense Ministry published a video of the Namer infantry fighting vehicle on July 31, 2017, along with a 30mm weapon mounted in an unmanned turret and the Trophy APS. The Namer IFV delivers better responsiveness in urban combat operations and increased firepower for infantry forces.
The ministry published a second video in December 2018 of the IFV Namer firing two Spike-MR missiles from a pod that can be placed on the turret roof.
At the time, a defense ministry spokesperson stated the installation “will enable IDF soldiers to fire missiles from within the vehicles while they are still protected, which will significantly increase the attack range of the vehicles.”
The Namer has also proved its combat capability. Two of these reportedly took part in the Gaza War in 2008. And when Israel went to war with Hamas once more six years later, as many as 120 APCs were still in use. According to reports, the heavy vehicles withstood rocket and missile attacks during Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza.
The vehicle did not have a combat loss until recently when Hamas attacked the army base as part of their surprise attack.
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