In a bold move, Israel has declared its intent to flood Hamas’s intricate underground bunker system in Gaza by pumping water into the extensive maze-like network. This unconventional strategy is part of the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) efforts to neutralize the threat posed by Hamas’s subterranean tunnels.
The IDF, in an official statement released on January 30, revealed that it has initiated the process of pumping water into the tunnels in Gaza. The primary objective is to dismantle the significant network that Hamas employs for launching attacks on Tel Aviv’s army and other strategic areas.
According to a study conducted by the US military academy West Point, Hamas has an extensive system of more than 1,300 tunnels, spanning over 500km in Gaza. This underground labyrinth played a crucial role during the conflict that erupted in October 2023.
The IDF’s determination to eliminate Hamas intensified after an attack on Tel Aviv claimed the lives of 1,200 people and resulted in 250 hostages being held by the militant group. As of now, 132 individuals remain in captivity.
Israel’s military response included an air, land, and sea assault on Gaza, causing significant casualties, particularly among women and children, according to Gaza health authorities. The IDF emphasized that many hostages are believed to be held within the extensive tunnel network.
The idea of pumping water into the underground bunkers was initially reported by Israeli media in December 2023. However, experts have expressed concerns about the potential risks and dangers associated with such a method, especially for civilians in Gaza.
Lynn Hastings, the former UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, cautioned against the potential damage to water and wastewater infrastructure in Gaza. She highlighted the risk of building and road collapses due to increased pressure and the entry of seawater into the region.
In response to these concerns, the IDF stated on January 30 that they are taking precautions not to harm the area’s groundwater resources. The water pumping is conducted only in suitable tunnels and locations, using appropriate methods to minimize collateral damage.
The underground bunker system initially served as a means for Hamas to navigate and overcome Israel’s stringent blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007. The system’s expansion occurred following the Israel-Hamas war in 2014.
Israel’s decision to pump water into Hamas’s underground maze showcases the innovative measures being employed to counteract the threat posed by the militant group. This unconventional approach highlights the complexity of the conflict and the ongoing efforts to neutralize Hamas’s strategic assets.