The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported on Dec. 4 that 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.
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, the Journal reported. 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, the Journal report continues, 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 reportedly 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.