Nahal Oz, Israel, February 24 – Israel Defense Force engineers are working intensively to conceal a series of dams that were opened in order to flood the Gaza Strip with rainwater, aiming to contradict news reports of the induced flooding.
Nearly three battalions of engineers and support troops are laboring around the clock as of yesterday, when Agence France-Presse first reported on the opening of the dams and the consequent deluge of parts of the besieged Gaza Strip. A concurrent deluge of PR efforts also launched to deny the existence of such dams, including hacking Google Earth’s satellite image database to erase evidence of the dams that line the Israeli border with the coastal territory.
The efforts bore partial fruit as AFP and several other outlets retracted the story, but it continues to spread on social media and Arab news organizations that are apparently ignoring the follow-up activity. Mainstream outlets have either issued corrections or removed the links to their stories, but not before human rights activists and other media personalities captured the images and persisted in publicizing the story.
Engineering battalion commander Major Kastahh told a reporter his men had been working in multiple shifts to either dismantle or camouflage the eleven dams that Israel has maintained along the Gaza border for the specific purpose of flooding the territory to make life miserable for the Palestinians there. He said he expected the project to be completed by Wednesday morning, and that eight of the eleven dams would remain useful for the same purpose. The other three would be dismantled, but in the long term the army would replace them with huge, better-concealed pipes with valves that could be opened and closed at will in order to further oppress Gazans yet make it appear that their flood-induced misery had nothing to do with Israel.
“We will continue to blame Hamas for the situation in Gaza,” Kastahh explained. “As long as it remains credible for us to say they should be using metal piping for drainage infrastructure and not for rockets, we see no reason to alter our water-related approach.”
The dams were last opened in 2013, but only seven were in operation at the time. Completion of the remaining four took place under the cover of Operation Protective Edge this past summer. Some of the images circulating online relating to the previous round of flooding have been reused, allowing the Israelis to claim that coverage of the episode has been tainted by slander from the start. Kastahh noted that although it was not his department, his contacts in the units responsible for the media redirection had informed him that it was in fact they, not Palestinians or journalists, who began spreading the older photos, in order to generate credibility for the “slander” angle.
Fortunately for the Palestinians, the intrepid activists of Human Rights Watch ignore Israeli pronouncements, and have therefore not participated in the retraction or “correction” of the various reports.