Israel is contemplating using a system of large pumps to flood with seawater Hamas’s huge tunnel network beneath the Gaza Strip, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing US officials. According to the report, the IDF last month assembled at least five large pumps about one mile north of the Al-Shati “refugee” camp which is located along the Mediterranean Sea coastline in Gaza City. The pumps are capable of moving thousands of cubic meters of seawater per hour into the tunnels, which could flood them in a few weeks.
So far, the IDF has identified some 800 tunnels stretching from northern to southern Gaza but believes the network may be much bigger.
In September 2015, the Egyptian Army pumped water from the Mediterranean into the underground smuggling tunnels connecting Sinai with the Gaza Strip. The operation was intended to end the smuggling of contraband into Gaza and people out of the strip, and was part of an Egyptian plan to create a one-mile-wide no-man’s zone around the Sinai border.
Israel has embarked on a similar plan to establish a broad no-man’s stretch around its entire border with Gaza.
According to the WSJ, while some US officials are concerned about the flooding plan, others support disabling the tunnels.
The weeks-long process of flooding the tunnels would force out Hamas terrorists, hopefully together with their Israeli hostages.
Last month, The Washington Post also suggested that the IDF is considering flooding the Hamas tunnels, but it remains to be seen whether the plan would be executed before all the hostages are released.