IDF has begun pumping seawater into Hamas tunnels in Gaza – report

Biden officials warned that the plan could have a serious environmental impact on Gaza’s groundwater quality .

By World Israel News Staff

The IDF has started an operation to flood Hamas’s underground tunnel network in the Gaza Strip with seawater, a report published Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal said.

The report, which cites U.S. officials familiar with the Israeli military’s strategies, said the process could be an effective way of countering tunnel operations. Other Biden officials warned that it could have a serious environmental impact, with long-term consequences on the groundwater quality of the Gaza Strip.

IDF Chief Herzi Halevi, in a statement last week, hinted at the effectiveness of this method, describing the flooding of the tunnels as “a good idea,” although he refrained from discussing the operation’s specifics.

Both the military and the Prime Minister’s Office has maintained a policy of not publicly disclosing details about their efforts to dismantle the tunnel infrastructure.

The IDF added two pumps to an existing set of five, US officials told the Journal. These five original large pumps, installed north of the al-Shati refugee camp last month, are each designed to pump thousands of cubic meters of seawater into Hamas’s underground tunnels.

This method of tunnel flooding is not without precedent. Egypt employed a similar strategy in 2015, using seawater to flood tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip with the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian operation faced heavy backlash for allegedly causing damage to the soil in the affected areas.

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Last week, journalist David Ignatius reported in The Washington Post that the IDF was considering the move.

The move would negate the need to risk soldiers’ lives by sending them into narrow and booby-trapped corridors.

“Water is a powerful force of nature — even more so when it is amplified by pumps. One thing about tunnels is that they’re vulnerable to flooding, even if they have elaborate drainage,” Ignatius wrote.

He stressed that no Israeli officials had confirmed such a plan, but added that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had made the “cryptic” comment that “You need an industrial solution.”

Bombing hundreds of miles of underground passages may not be a particularly efficient method of killing terrorists, Ignatius noted.

Previous experience backs his theories up. When the IAF destroyed miles of the so-called Gaza City “metro” in a massive single attack during 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, the pilots dropped some 450 missiles on 150 targets but the number of enemy combatants who died was in the dozens.