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Hamas Tunnel. Credit: Israeli Defense Forces

Israel has begun pumping seawater into the Hamas tunnel network in Gaza, according to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, which cited U.S. officials who had been briefed on Israel’s military operations. The project would immediately endanger the lives of more than 100 hostages, would do indeterminable damage to Gaza’s already more than precarious water supply, and would perhaps inflict long-term damage to its soil.

Typically, Israeli officials have refused to comment openly on the initiation of the operation. A spokesperson for Defense Minister Yoav Gallant refused to comment, stating that any military operations involving the tunnels are classified. However, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said last week that flooding the subterranean network was “a good idea, but I won’t comment on its specifics.”

Experiments with powerful pumps have been proceeding over the last month. It is estimated that, to fully flood all the passageways and bunkers, the operation would take no less than several weeks. Prior to this project, Israel has tackled the tunnel network with a combination of airstrikes, liquid explosives, robots, dogs and drones.

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