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And drown the hostages.
An interesting idea - but isn’t that an easy strategy for Hamas to defeat with really simple countermeasures? Just by collapsing a portion of the tunnel “downstream” from where Israel has set up the pipe?
It’s a really easy way for Israel to destroy the portion of the tunnel that actually leads out of the network into Israel - which was Egypt’s objective back in the day. But Hamas isn’t going to let Israel flood them out and pump water into the entire tunnel network from those access points. They’ll cut their losses and cave in the tunnel so the water is blocked a few hundred yards from wherever the pumps are.
The article mentioned it would take three or four weeks at least, and the rate can be controlled. There is also no need to to completely fill the tunnels. A meter of water, say, would render them quite difficult to use.
That would be one section neutralized. Move the feeder pipes to a new section of tunnel. Rinse and repeat. Of course, more than one tunnel can be ‘moistened’ at a time.
Is that at all practical, though?
The reason the Egyptians were able to do this is because their objective was to destroy Hamas’ access into Egypt through these tunnels. So all they had to do was flood the tunnels from their end (the parts in Egypt), rendering the parts they cared about (the parts that led into Egypt) unusable.
Israel can do the same thing with the tunnel bits that extend out into the periphery of Gaza, but Hamas isn’t going to let the flooding continue into much of the interior of the network. They’ll just seal off those particular tunnel segments. They might have already done so, to prevent the Israelis from using them to gain access to the larger network.
At the same time, the IDF now has the capability to move ground forces into Gaza. A map I saw earlier this week showed they had pushed almost all the way to the sea south of Gaza City, almost cutting it off.
The water strategy could be combined with surface operations. It would just be another tool, one to help reduce tunnel threats (even a few blocks at a time).