The Israeli navy mentioned Tuesday that it had begun pumping water into the huge community of tunnels beneath Gaza, which Hamas has used to launch assaults, retailer weapons and imprison Israeli hostages.
The navy “has applied new capabilities to neutralize underground terrorist infrastructure within the Gaza Strip by channeling massive volumes of water into the tunnels,” the Israeli navy mentioned in an announcement.
The assertion was the navy’s first public acknowledgment that its engineers had been flooding tunnels, a contentious technique that some navy officers have mentioned is ineffective and that the U.N. has warned may injury Gaza’s consuming water and sewage techniques.
Even earlier than the warfare began in October, Israeli navy officers had warned that Hamas’s tunnels offered a significant risk. Within the months since Israel launched its floor offensive and began uncovering the underground community, navy spokesmen have expressed shock on the size, depth and high quality of the tunnels. Some sections of the community are massive sufficient to drive a truck via.
Elsewhere, the navy has discovered underground chambers during which, they are saying, a number of the 240 hostages taken to Gaza after the Hamas-led assault on Oct. 7 have been held.
Senior Israeli protection officers, who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate intelligence issues, estimated this month that the underground community is between 350 and 450 miles — extraordinary figures for a territory that at its longest level is barely 25 miles. Two of the officers mentioned there are shut to five,700 separate shafts main right down to the tunnels.
In December, after studies that the navy had begun experimenting with flooding some tunnels in northern Gaza, a U.N. official in Gaza warned towards it.
“It’s going to trigger extreme injury to the already fragile water and sewage infrastructure that’s in Gaza,” mentioned Lynn Hastings, then the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories.
In its assertion Tuesday the navy mentioned it had chosen tunnels to flood after an “evaluation of the soil traits and the water techniques within the space to make sure that injury isn’t achieved to the world’s groundwater.”
The navy started experimenting with flooding tunnels solely after the warfare started, in keeping with three navy officers with data of the hassle, which was code-named Atlantis. The aim was by no means to drown Hamas fighters taking refuge within the subterranean community, however reasonably to flush them out, the officers mentioned.
On the entire, nevertheless, the mission has had restricted success, the officers added. Regardless of massive volumes of water being pumped, most of the tunnels are porous, leading to seepage into the encircling soil reasonably than a deluge via the passageways.