Israel mulls flooding Gaza tunnels with seawater using 5 giant pumps: Report

The pumps are capable of flooding the tunnels within weeks, said the WSJ report

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS/GAZA-TUNNELS An Israeli soldier walks through a tunnel underneath Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City | Reuters

Israel is considering flooding the underground tunnels built by Hamas in Gaza with seawater from the Mediterranean Sea to destroy the structures and drive fighters to the surface, according to a report. 

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has assembled five large seawater pumps near the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. The pumps are capable of flooding the tunnels within weeks by pumping thousands of cubic meters of water per hour into them, said The Wall Street Journal.

However, Israel has not yet decided on whether to implement it, though it alerted the US about the plan last month. It is also unclear whether Israel would resort to such a move before all hostages are released, considering the apparent risk that would pose to hostages being held underground.

The WSJ report added that the response from the Biden administration was mixed.  A U.S. official told Reuters that it made sense for Israel to render the tunnels inoperable and that the country was exploring a range of ways to do that. Israel's defence ministry has not yet responded to the report.

However, the plan is fraught with dangers, including potential damage to Gaza’s aquifer and soil considering seawater and dangerous substances seeping into them. The foundations of the buildings could also be affected.

"We are not sure how successful pumping will be since nobody knows the details of the tunnels and the ground around them," a person familiar with the plan told the Wall Street Journal. "It’s impossible to know if that will be effective because we don’t know how seawater will drain in tunnels no one has been in before."

Israel has repeatedly claimed to have discovered over 800 tunnel shafts in the Gaza Strip. "The shafts were located in civilian areas, and many of them were located near or inside educational institutions, kindergartens, mosques, and playgrounds," the IDF said, adding that in some of the tunnels, soldiers found Hamas weaponry. 

Meanwhile, Israel continued bombardment in and around Khan Younis on Tuesday morning. Videos showed ambulances and private cars racing into a local hospital carrying people wounded in a bloody new phase of the war in Gaza.

Satellite images also showed 150 Israeli tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles north of the heart of Khan Younis. IDF fighter jets were also constantly bombarding the second-biggest city of Gaza.

Over the past few days, Israeli strikes have been on a ferocious scale,  Mohammed Aghaalkurdi, an aid worker with the group Medical Aid for Palestinians in Khan Younis, told AP. He said neighbourhoods and shelters were emptying as people fled. This is despite Israel's claim that it was launching more precise attacks to avoid civilian casualties.


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp