Israeli forces poised to invade Gaza on a mission to wipe out Hamas will confront an ever-more capable opponent trained for years by a clandestine support network that stretches far beyond the tiny enclave to Iran and allied Arab groups.

Hamas' deadly attack on southern Israel six days ago — unprecedented for the group in its planning and scale — was a devastating demonstration of the military expertise it has gained since seizing control of Gaza in 2007.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," said Ali Baraka, a senior Hamas official, adding that the group had long drawn on money and training from Iran and Iranian regional proxies like Lebanon's Hezbollah, while bolstering its own forces in Gaza.