Israel Considering Flooding Hamas Tunnel System Before Ground Operation: US Journalist Hersh
01:21 25.10.2023 (Updated: 11:45 25.10.2023)
© AP Photo / Adel HanaDestruction from Israeli aerial bombardment is seen in Gaza City on October 11, 2023.
© AP Photo / Adel Hana
The Palestinian group Hamas launched a rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7; as a response, Israel declared a state of war the following day and launched airstrikes on Gaza. Later, Israel ordered a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, cutting off supplies of water, food and fuel.
Israel is looking into flooding Hamas’ tunnel system before starting its ground operation in the Gaza Strip, US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said, citing sources.
"A well-informed American official told me that the Israeli leadership is known to be considering flooding Hamas's vast tunnel system before sending in its troops, many of whom have had only a few weeks of training in the maneuvers and coordination required for the invasion," Hersh said in his column published on Substack.
Hersh said Israel is in the process of turning Gaza City into rubble, via constant bombing, and is also planning to begin the ground invasion soon.
Flooding the tunnels could mean that Israel was ready to "write off the hostages still in jeopardy," Hersh said.
"Where the estimated 200-plus hostages are is an open question. Israel is only talking about the end of the Hamas regime and Hamas has so far released four hostages," Hersh said. "The American official told me that the Israel leadership expects more to come soon."
Earlier on Tuesday, Israel’s Deputy Director General for Public Diplomacy Emmanuel Nahshon said that Israel is delaying the start of the ground invasion in Gaza due to possible "deadly traps."
The Israeli military is taking its time as it needs to prepare its soldiers for this unique situation, Nahshon added.
Hersh further indicated the al-Aqsa Martyrs brigade joined the Qassam brigades – the military wing of Hamas – in the attack on Israeli kibbutzim and villages on October 7.
On the day of the attack on Israel, the Qassam brigades were not alone and were actually joined by al-Aqsa Martyrs brigades, a coalition of Palestinian armed groups that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, the European Union and others, the article said on Tuesday, citing a US official.
"We know," Hersch cited the official as saying, "that the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade participated."
The participation of outside groups on Hamas' side in the attack on Israel was likely one of the reasons why secret talks about a larger release of Israeli hostages were never successful, according to Hersh.
On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise large-scale rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel launched strikes on the Gaza Strip and ordered a complete blockade of it, home to more than 2 million people, cutting off supplies of water, food and fuel. The blockade was later eased to allow trucks with humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The escalation of the conflict has resulted in thousands of people killed and injured on both sides.