February 26, 2024

Environmental experts have warned that a potential plan by Israel to flood the Hamas tunnel network with seawater in Gaza could constitute an element of the crime of genocide. This plan could ruin the basic conditions for life in Gaza, impacting drinking water and agriculture. The detrimental environmental consequences of flooding the tunnels could be far-reaching, leading to a contaminated aquifer and making water treatment methods infeasible. There are also concerns about potential stored fuel in the tunnels and the impact on the structural integrity of the ground in Gaza. This would be the latest move in a long history of Israel’s targeting of Palestinian water supplies, further exacerbating the precarious water situation in both Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinians are already facing challenges related to access to water, and targeting water supplies by Israel is seen as an attempt to make Gaza unliveable for Palestinians. The UN Environment Programme has raised concerns about the potential impact of the plan on the coastal aquifer and the fragile ecosystem of Gaza. The Israeli government and IDF did not respond to requests for comment. If implemented, the flooding of the tunnels could have catastrophic consequences for the people of Gaza and may qualify as an element of genocide according to the UN convention.

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