Hamas, which launched a barrage of rockets into Israel last week and defeated the country’s famed Iron Dome air defence system, is thought to number just 20,000 to 25,000 guerilla fighters.
Over the border, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) is an advanced military body numbering hundreds of thousands.
‘The standing army is significant, around 170,000, and they’re reportedly calling up around 450,000 reservists,’ said Dr Josh Andresen, associate professor of national security and foreign relations law at the University of Surrey.
‘There are reports they’re literally going around the world, chartering military planes and ships to bring back reservists who are abroad at the moment – there are vast numbers of dual citizens in the US, UK, France and elsewhere.’
The vast army requires significant hardware and munitions.
Since 2004 the IDF has used Merkava tanks, and last month unveiled the latest iteration, the fifth generation ‘lightning’ Merkava.
The diesel-powered vehicles have six wheels either side within the tank track.
The main armament is a 120mm gun, plus two machine guns and a breech-loaded mortar.
A third of the IDF’s personnel are assigned to the Israeli Air Force.
The air force currently uses a mix of F-35 Lightning II jets, procured from the US, and Israeli-built F-21 Kfir fighter jets.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has two external weapon stations for air-to-surface strikes including bombs and cluster munitions. Internal stations carry air-to-air missiles.
The F-21 Kfir is a single-seat fighter that carries guns, cannons, missiles, bombs and rockets.
In late 2021 the IDF agreed to buy a consignment of 12 CH-53K helicopters from the US, but these will not be delivered until 2025 at the earliest.
At present it has a wide range of vehicles, including AH-64 Apache and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, both of which are four-blade, twin engine helicopters.
The Black Hawk carries a combination of fixed- forward guns, rockets and air-to-ground missiles.
The Apache has a 30mm cannon, rockets and Hellfire missiles.
Israel is one of the largest operators of drones in the region, and a net exporter of the technology. However, much of the fleet is unarmed, used instead for surveillance.
Armed drones are the Heron TP UAV, Hermes 450 UAV and Hermes 900 UAV, all of which carry anti-tank missiles.
‘The IDF has more or less anything and everything a very highly advanced military would have, including precision munitions,’ said Dr Andresen. ‘Although there are reports they may be running low.
‘There are also reports that the US is flying in more weapons of various stripes, and there’s speculation that may include high-intensity bunker-busting bombs.’
Does Israel have nuclear weapons?
Israel is a nuclear-armed nation, but would not deploy them in fighting against Hamas due to the proximity.
It initially developed nuclear weapons in response to threats from neighbouring Middle Eastern nations including Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, and more recently Iran.
Where does Hamas get its weapons?
While there is no current evidence to suggest Iran was involved in Saturday’s attack, historically the country has provided Hamas with both financial support and weapons for its continued campaigns against Israel.