Israeli Forces Have Started Flooding Hamas’ Terror Tunnels With Seawater

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano

UPDATE: They’re flooding the tunnels.

Israel has resumed military operations in Gaza after Hamas violated the terms of the brief but tenuous ceasefire that was heavily based on the release of the 200 or so Israelis who were kidnapped on October 7. Scores were released by the terrorists, but continued to attack Israeli forces. Rocket attacks also continued, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government somewhat tolerated the violations in the ceasefire to ensure as many Israelis held in captivity could be released. Israel would, in turn, release some 150 Palestinians imprisoned on terror charges. We all knew this deal would break down, and it did on December 1. Now, the IDF is back to mopping up terrorist holdouts and mulling over what to do about the intricate terror tunnels that spread throughout the strip.

Multiple entry points have been discovered, and Israel knows some of these tunnels are hundreds of feet below the surface, hence why Hamas is using the fuel stores to power generators that feed their terrorist forces hiding below with oxygen. Israel has the manpower and technology to wipe out everyone, but it’ll take time. However, the latter predicament is one Israeli society is willing to tolerate to ensure the safety of their country. Israel has already said it will remain in the Gaza Strip long after their war with Hamas is over. Still, what to do about the terrorists still hiding in the tunnels remains an issue. Dogs have found and neutralized some of these savages, but many are no wider than a telephone booth, leading to serious concerns about casualties. They’re also booby-trapped, and the environment is virtually pitch black. There is an anti-personnel foam bomb that can be deployed, but the latest plan is to flush out the terrorists with seawater. The problem is that it could also ruin the strip’s water system (via WSJ): 

Israel has assembled a system of large pumps it could use to flood Hamas’s vast network of tunnels under the Gaza Strip with seawater, a tactic that could destroy the tunnels and drive the fighters from their underground refuge but also threaten Gaza’s water supply, U.S. officials said. 

The Israel Defense Forces finished assembling large seawater pumps roughly one mile north of the Al-Shati refugee camp around the middle of last month. Each of at least five pumps can draw water from the Mediterranean Sea and move thousands of cubic meters of water per hour into the tunnels, flooding them within weeks. 

Israel first informed the U.S. of the option early last month, prompting a discussion weighing its feasibility and effect on the environment against the military value of disabling the tunnels, officials said. 
U.S. officials said they didn’t know how close the Israeli government was to carrying out the plan. Israel hasn’t made a final decision to move ahead, nor has it ruled the plan out, officials said. 
Sentiment inside the U.S. was mixed. Some U.S. officials privately expressed concern about the plan, while other officials said the U.S. supports the disabling of the tunnels and said there wasn’t necessarily any U.S. opposition to the plan. The Israelis have identified about 800 tunnels so far, though they acknowledge the network is bigger than that. 
Hamas has used the extensive tunnel system to hide, move undetected between houses in Gaza and hold hostages. Some of the more sophisticated tunnels were built with reinforced concrete, contain power and communication lines, and are tall enough for an average-size man to stand up in them. 
Most Gazans don’t currently have access to clean water. Among the sources for drinking water in Gaza are purification plants that have been recently disabled. Before Oct. 7, three Israeli pipelines sent water into Gaza. Of those, one has shut down and the other two operate at sharply reduced levels. 
Because it isn’t clear how permeable the tunnels are or how much seawater would seep into the soil and to what effect, it is hard to fully assess the impact of pumping seawater into the tunnels, said Jon Alterman, senior vice president at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. 
“It’s hard to tell what pumping seawater will do to the existing water and sewage infrastructure. It is hard to tell what it will do to groundwater reserves. And it’s hard to tell the impact on the stability of nearby buildings,” Alterman said. 
[…] Gaza’s aquifer, from which the population draws for drinking water and other uses, is already becoming saltier with a rise in the sea level, requiring more energy to fuel the desalination plants on which the population depends, said Zwijnenburg, who works for PAX, a Netherlands-based peace organization.
Flooding could affect Gaza’s already polluted soil, and hazardous substances stored in the tunnels could seep into the ground, he said in an email. 

There’s always something, right? Any move Israel makes that could cripple Hamas or deliver a knockout blow is met with condemnation from the international community, many of which remain silent or willfully ignorant of Hamas’ war crimes and atrocities carried out on October 7. Groups supporting women’s rights have especially been mum on the mass rape of Israeli women by Hamas terrorists. Hamas can fire rockets into Israel from elementary schools, rape women, behead babies, and set Jewish people on fire, and they get some condemnation. Still, the world community’s actual firepower would be turned on Israel if they did flush the tunnels because the terrorists wouldn’t have clean drinking water.  

The piece is permeated with unknowns—officials on both sides acknowledge the plan exists but don’t know the status. They’re thinking about it; who are they kidding? And, of course, Grandpa Joe will have to decide because it could destroy the so-called ‘Gaza Metro’ that Hamas has used for years to commit acts of terrorism. 

“Former officials acknowledged such an operation would put the Biden administration in a tough position and perhaps bring global condemnation, but said it was one of the few effective options for permanently disabling a Hamas tunnel system estimated to stretch for about 300 miles,” wrote the WSJ. 

Well, the decision seems to be between eliminating a piece of terrorist infrastructure forever or making antisemites mad. The Gaza Strip has been wrecked and will need to be rebuilt regardless, but no successful reconstruction can ever be declared if Hamas remains part of the social fabric. 

Yet, that’s a whole other debate since Israel will remain to assume Gaza’s security responsibilities only. They don’t want to administer it, and the United Nations and other Arab countries don’t want to rebuild Gaza or govern it either. 


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