Israel is considering a plan to pump seawater into Hamas' tunnel system underneath the Gaza Strip, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing U.S. officials.
The Israel Defense Forces has assembled five large seawater pumps capable of transferring thousands of cubic meters of water per hour from the Mediterranean Sea into the tunnels, according to the report.
Work was reportedly completed on the pumps around the middle of November. They are located roughly one mile north of the Al-Shati Camp along northern Gaza's coastline.
Israel first informed the Biden administration of the plans in early November, the officials said, with discussions on the effectiveness of such an operation and the potential environmental impact, including on the Strip's water supply. The officials said the reaction in Washington was mixed, with some supporting it and others privately expressing concerns, although "there wasn't necessarily any U.S. opposition to the plan."
U.S. officials said that they didn't know how close Israel was to carrying out the plans, with a final decision on whether to proceed still pending.
Israel has discovered around 800 tunnels so far during the Gaza ground operation that began on Oct. 27, with 500 of them destroyed or sealed. The IDF has also destroyed hundreds of miles of tunnels in addition to the shafts.
Hamas kidnapped over 200 people during the Oct. 7 massacre, with 137 still being held hostage.
A source familiar with the plan said that a flooding process over weeks would allow for Hamas terrorists and potentially hostages to move out.
"We are not sure how successful pumping will be since nobody knows the details of the tunnels and the ground around them," the source said. "It's impossible to know if that will be effective because we don't know how seawater will drain in tunnels no one has been in before."
The WSJ reached out to an IDF official, who declined to comment on the report, saying only that "The IDF is operating to dismantle Hamas' terror capabilities in various ways, using different military and technological tools."
Republished with permission from Jewish News Syndicate.