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Live blog update| Israel's war on Gaza

Israel confirms flooding tunnels in Gaza with seawater

The Israel army said on Tuesday that it had been flooding some tunnels in the Gaza Strip with seawater, confirming what had been an open secret for several weeks.

Researchers specialising in water, diplomacy and conflict have told Middle East Eye that the flooding would have damaging ecological effects, including the pollution of Gaza's already devastated water supply and damage to its crops.

The impacts could amount to a breach of international humanitarian law, according to one of the experts. 

“While the overall scope and magnitude of the impact is unclear, we can reasonably expect that at least some seawater will be seeping into the soil from the tunnels, particularly in areas where tunnels have previously been damaged,” Juliane Schillinger, a researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, told MEE in early December when the plans were first revealed.

Schillinger, who specialises in the interaction between conflict and water management, said the seepage would lead to localised pollution of soil and groundwater with seawater. 

“It is important to keep in mind that we are not just talking about water with a high salt content here - seawater along the Mediterranean coast is also polluted with untreated wastewater, which is continuously discharged into the Mediterranean from Gaza’s dysfunctional sewage system,” she said.