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Israel’s plan to flood Gaza tunnels with seawater ‘war crime’: Russia

Young boys push a loaded trolly in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023, as Israeli aggression on the besieged enclaves continues. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has denounced as “shocking” reports of Israel’s plan to flood tunnels in the Gaza Strip with seawater, saying such a move would be a “war crime”.   

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador, made the remarks in a statement on Saturday, following reports that Israel has already assembled a system of large pumps to flood with seawater underground facilities in Gaza that are used to transport essentials from neighboring Egypt into the besieged coastal territory. 

The Israeli regime claims the tunnels belong to the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas where its fighters are hiding. 

"Such flooding could be considered analogous to 'do not spare them' order, but it is not only about that and not only about civilians who may be in those tunnels," the statement said.

"Of course, there most likely will be civilians, for where else would they go from the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza," it added.

The statement stressed that "If done, this will be a war crime."

The flooding tactic was first reported by The Wall Street Journal last week. According to media reports, Israel is discussing with the United States practical aspects of such flooding, which could also threaten the besieged territory’s water supply.

The latest development came a day after the US vetoed a United Nations Security Council calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing aggression. The move drew widespread condemnation from across the world.

Polyanskiy also said that Moscow was extremely disappointed that the council had failed to adopt a binding decision to demand rather than call on the parties to stop the violence.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after the territory’s Palestinian resistance movements waged the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in response to the Israeli regime’s decades-long campaign of bloodletting and devastation against Palestinians.

Since the start of its onslaught, the Israeli regime claimed that the occupation army targeted hospitals in Gaza after accusing Hamas of using the medical facilities and their underground tunnels for their command centers. The resistance movement, however, rejected such groundless allegations and said the vast tunnel network would be used for delivering humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians and patients in the besieged Strip.

The Israeli aggression has so far killed at least 17,700 Palestinians, most of them women and children. 

Tel Aviv has also cut off one of the most densely populated places in the world from basic supplies, such as water, electricity, and fuel. Shortage of medical supplies and food has left 2.3 million Palestinians at risk of starvation.

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