The Israeli daily The Times of Israel reported late in the week that the attempt to pump seawater into the vast network of tunnels built by Hamas in Gaza was proving to be a “success.”
“The tunnel flooding had indeed begun, albeit in a limited trial capacity …,” and that “it was understood to have been a success,” the newspaper said on Thursday.
Days ago, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the Israeli military had already begun pumping seawater into tunnels used by Hamas. Citing US officials familiar with the Israeli military operation, the WSJ had reported that the move to flood the tunnels with water from the Mediterranean was in its early stages. A spokesperson for the Israeli defense minister had declined to comment, saying tunnel operations were classified.
When asked, however, if the tunnel flooding tactic might pose a threat to Israeli prisoners held in Gaza, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press conference on Thursday that the military operates on “intelligence” regarding where prisoners are being kept, adding that Israel “will not take steps that harm them.”
In another press conference in Beirut on Thursday, senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said that the tunnels were built to withstand flooding, and that Israel’s plans have been taken into account.
“The tunnels were built by well-trained and educated engineers who considered all possible attacks from the occupation, including pumping water,” Hamdan said, adding that the underground network is “an integral part of the resistance, and all consequences and expected attacks have been taken into account.”
At the start of the war in October, officials were quoted as saying that soldiers should “under no circumstances” attempt to enter the tunnels.
The report by The Times of Israel comes as Israel is no closer to its goal of destroying Hamas. “Israel is still far from toppling Hamas. The majority of its fighters are still alive; it still possesses rockets,” said Michael Millstein, a Palestinian studies expert, on 12 December.
Clashes continue to rage between Israel and the Palestinian militants in both north and south Gaza, with resistance fighters ambushing Israeli troops on a daily basis. At least 10 Israeli soldiers were killed in the Shujaiya neighborhood of north Gaza and elsewhere on 12 December in coordinated ambushes laid by Hamas and other groups.
Israeli media referred to the ambush as “one of the deadliest” since the ground war was launched in late October.
Sat, 12/16/2023 – 22:00