The Israeli military stated on Tuesday it had began pumping water into the huge community of tunnels underneath Gaza, which Hamas has used to hold out assaults, retailer weapons and imprison Israeli hostages.
The military “has applied new capabilities to neutralize the underground terrorist infrastructure within the Gaza Strip by diverting massive quantities of water into the tunnels,” the Israeli military stated in an announcement.
The assertion was the navy’s first public acknowledgment that its engineers are flooding tunnels, a controversial technique that some navy officers say is ineffective and that the U.N. has warned may harm Gaza’s ingesting water and sewage programs.
Even earlier than the warfare started in October, Israeli navy officers had warned that Hamas’ tunnels posed a significant menace. Within the months since Israel launched its floor offensive and commenced uncovering the underground community, navy spokesmen have expressed shock on the size, depth and high quality of the tunnels. Some components of the community are massive sufficient for a truck to drive by way of them.
Elsewhere, the navy has found underground chambers that they are saying maintain among the 240 hostages delivered to Gaza after the October 7 Hamas-led assault.
Senior Israeli protection officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity to debate intelligence issues, estimated this month that the underground community is between 350 and 700 kilometers lengthy – extraordinary figures for an space that’s simply 40 kilometers at its longest level. Two of the officers stated there are almost 5,700 particular person shafts resulting in the tunnels.
In December, a UN official in Gaza warned towards it after experiences that the military had begun experimenting with flooding some tunnels in northern Gaza.
“It can trigger critical harm to Gaza’s already fragile water and sewage infrastructure,” stated Lynn Hastings, then the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories.
In its assertion Tuesday, the navy stated it chosen tunnels for flooding after an “evaluation of soil traits and water programs within the space to make sure no harm is triggered to the world’s groundwater.”
The navy solely started experimenting with flood tunnels after the warfare started, in line with three navy officers with data of the trouble, which was codenamed Atlantis. The aim was by no means to drown Hamas fighters in search of refuge within the underground community, however quite to flush them out, the officers stated.
General, nonetheless, the challenge has had restricted success, officers added. Regardless of pumping massive quantities of water, most of the tunnels are porous, inflicting seepage into the encompassing floor quite than a flood by way of the passages.