TEL AVIV, Israel — Project Snake Pit is the name of Israel's secret weapon first employed in the final stages of Israel's grueling anti-tunnel war in Gaza as part of Operation Protective Edge.

A combined effort by the Israeli Defense Ministry's MAFAT research and development directorate, state-owned Rafael and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operational teams, Project Snake Pit combines "a number of technologies" and "off the shelf components" to answer the subterranean threat, according to a MoD promotional video posted last week on "In the Rooms of Haredim," a religious Hebrew-language website.

The MAFAT promotional video was presented April 29 as part of a closed-door ceremony awarding excellence in breakthrough technologies and developments on behalf of Israeli security requirements.

"It's essentially breakthrough technology," Issachar Blumberg of Rafael said in the video.

"We've seen the fruits of our labor. But we're already seeing more advanced fruits. We're improving the system and looking to the next system which will be even more advanced and effective."

Among recipients of the MAFAT award was Col. Ofer Winter, commander of the IDF Givati infantry brigade that suffered losses in anti-tunnel combat throughout the Gaza Strip.

In the video, Winter cited the ability of industry, MoD and warriors working together to "bring a real solution that contributed and achieved operational results."

Winter further noted: "You are going to a certain enemy, and you don't want to get dragged into combat the way he planned it. So you need to know how to create an advantage over the enemy."

He added, "It's hard to imagine what would have happened if we didn't have the technology and this solution."

Four IDF soldiers were killed and scores wounded on the Israeli side of the border fending off Palestinian fighters who had penetrated via four assault tunnels.

Dozens more died in 17 days of nearly house-to-house maneuvering war against more than 30 assault tunnels and subterranean command centers throughout the Strip.

Issachar Bloomberg of Rafael, another one of the award recipients featured in the MoD video, hailed Snake Pit as breakthrough technology. "We've seen the fruits of our labor, but we're already seeing more advanced fruits. We're improving the system and looking at the next system which will be more advanced and capable."

In its website posting from April 29, "In the Rooms of Haredim" noted that Snake Pit team representatives received their commendations from MAFAT director Ofir Shoham and chairman of the awards committee Danny Gold.

"Every one of the winning teams arrived at conceptual breakthroughs on the way to extraordinary weapon development, a surprise weapon that is incomparable in our sector and apparently in the world at large," Shoham was quoted by the website as saying.

The site further noted that Snake Pit "is based on technological foundations developed over years by Rafael and led by MAFAT and arrived at maturity through combined and intensive efforts by operational users."

"The system was incorporated during the course of Protective Edge and proved to be a significant operational contribution," according to the website.

Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at

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