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Israel weighs plan to flood Hamas tunnel network

"This is a good idea, but I won’t comment on its specifics," Israel Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said.

The entrance to a Hamas terror tunnel in the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF.
The entrance to a Hamas terror tunnel in the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF.

Israel is considering a plan to pump seawater into Hamas’s tunnel system underneath the Gaza Strip, Israel Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi suggested on Tuesday.

“Any means which give us an advantage over the enemy, deprives it of this asset, is a means that we are evaluating using. This is a good idea, but I won’t comment on its specifics,” stated Halevi.

“We have various ways [to destroy the tunnels] … they include explosives to destroy, and other means to prevent Hamas operatives from using the tunnels to harm our soldiers,” the military chief added.

Earlier on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the IDF had already assembled five large seawater pumps capable of transferring thousands of cubic meters of water per hour from the Mediterranean Sea into the tunnels.

Work was reportedly completed on the pumps around the middle of November. They are located roughly one mile north of the Al-Shati Camp along northern Gaza’s coastline.

Israel first informed the Biden administration of the idea in early November, officials said, with discussions on the effectiveness of such an operation and the potential environmental impact, including on the Strip’s water supply.

The officials said the reaction in Washington was mixed, with some supporting it and others privately expressing concerns, although “there wasn’t necessarily any U.S. opposition to the plan.”

U.S. officials said they didn’t know how close Israel was to carrying out the plans, with a final decision on whether to proceed still pending.

Israel has discovered some 800 tunnels so far during the Gaza ground operation that began on Oct. 27, with 500 of them destroyed or sealed. The IDF has also destroyed hundreds of miles of tunnels, in addition to the shafts.

Hamas kidnapped more than 200 people during the Oct. 7 massacre, with 137 still being held hostage.

A source familiar with the plan said that a flooding process over weeks would allow for Hamas terrorists and potentially hostages to move out.

“We are not sure how successful pumping will be since nobody knows the details of the tunnels and the ground around them,” the source said. “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.”

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