Israel to flood Hamas tunnels with seawater

Israeli military have started setting up pumps to flood Hamas' tunnels in Gaza with seawater
Israeli military have started setting up pumps to flood Hamas's tunnels in Gaza with seawater - Dr Eli David via X

Israeli troops have been photographed setting up pumps to flood Hamas’s tunnels with seawater.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released images on Wednesday of dozens of soldiers laying pipes on Gaza’s Mediterranean Coast.

It was reported earlier this week that the IDF was considering whether to flush out the 300-mile tunnel network and had completed construction on five pumps about a mile north of the Al-Shati refugee camp.

The pumps could move thousands of cubic metres of water per hour but experts warn the move could damage Gaza’s water supply.

Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, the IDF’s chief of staff, said on Tuesday that flooding the tunnels was “a good idea” when asked about the reports.

“Any means which gives us an advantage over the enemy, deprives it of these assets, is a means that we are evaluating using,” he said, without giving any further specifics.

On Wednesday, Israeli media also released footage of troops apparently working on the pipes underground, with black pipes swelling with water after a valve was turned.

Any move to flood the tunnels is complicated by the fact that Hamas is understood to be holding many of the remaining 138 hostages within them.

On Tuesday night, freed hostages and their families berated Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, for not doing enough to save Hamas captives, according to a recording obtained by Ynet News.

Prof Eilon Adar, of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, said the amount of damage to Gaza’s water supply could be significant.

“The negative impact on groundwater quality would last for several generations, depending on the amount that infiltrates into the subsurface,” he told the Times of Israel, adding the long-term effects would be “politically and morally incorrect”.

On Wednesday, Mr Netanyahu said Israeli troops had surrounded the house of Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind of the Oct 7 terror attack, in the main southern city of Khan Younis.

“[On Tuesday night] I said our forces can reach anywhere in the Gaza strip. Now they are surrounding Sinwar’s house. His house is not his fortress ... but it’s only a matter of time until we get him,” Mr Netanyahu said on Wednesday during a meeting with the head of the Red Cross.

‘Our job is to kill Sinwar’

Responding to Mr Netanyahu’s remarks, Daniel Hagari, the IDF’s chief spokesperson, said Sinwar was underground.

“I won’t elaborate on where exactly and what we know. Our job is to get to Sinwar and kill him.”

The IDF destroyed Sinwar’s house in the last bout of fighting in 2021, with the Hamas leader later posing for photos sitting on an armchair in the rubble.

Israeli forces were fighting door-to-door in Khan Younis on Wednesday, with the army claiming it had struck 250 targets in the Strip over the past 24 hours.

Troops found one of the largest ever weapons caches in the Gaza Strip, the IDF said. Hundreds of RPGs and dozens of anti-tank missiles were found in a depot near a health clinic and a school, a statement read.

The cache of weapons was said to be one of the largest ever found in the Gaza Strip
The cache of weapons was said to be one of the largest ever found in the Gaza Strip

Footage was released of soldiers from the 460th Armored Brigade and Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion carrying giant rockets on their shoulders on to waiting trucks.

At a news conference, Volker Turk, the UN’s human rights chief, said: “Palestinians in Gaza are living in utter, deepening horror”. More than 16,000 have been killed since the war began, according to the Hamas-run health authorities.

Eylon Levy, an Israeli government spokesman, said Israel wanted the war to end, but added “it can only end in a way that ensures that Hamas can never attack our people again”.

At a private meeting with Mr Netanyahu on Tuesday, hostages and their families furiously accused the prime minister of putting politics above rescue efforts. Some also said they were inadvertently fired on by the IDF, according to a leaked recording obtained by Ynet news.

“[I was in] a hiding place that was shelled and we had to be smuggled out and we were wounded,” a recently freed female hostage said.

“You claim that there is intelligence. But the fact is that we are being shelled.”

An Israeli helicopter unleashes a missile towards the Gaza Strip
An Israeli helicopter unleashes a missile towards the Gaza Strip - JACK GUEZ/AFP

The leaked recordings reflect the immense anger felt by many Israelis towards Mr Netanyahu and growing public support for prioritising the release of the remaining hostages.

“You put politics above the return of the kidnapped,” an unidentifed woman told Mr Netanyahu. “Return them all and not in a month, two months or a year.”

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Hamas had repeatedly raped women and mutilated their bodies during its assault on southern Israel, citing survivors and witnesses.

“It is appalling,” he told a political fundraiser in Boston.

According to Israeli reports citing a doctor who treated hostages, 10 former captives, both male and female, said they had been sexually assaulted after their kidnapping.

03:58 PM GMT

Today's live coverage has ended

Today’s live coverage has ended. Here is a roundup of the day’s main events:

  • Israeli troops have been pictured setting up pumps to flood Hamas tunnels with water.

  • A large stockpile was uncovered near a clinic and school in northern Gaza, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

  • Gaza health officials said many civilians were killed in an Israeli strike on houses in Deir al-Balah, north of Khan Younis.

  • Supplies at al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza are at critically low levels due to road enclosures despite hundreds of patients being admitted per day, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

  • The Israeli army said Wednesday that the International Committee of the Red Cross “must have access to the hostages” still being held by Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

  • An incident involving a drone in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen has been reported by the UK maritime trade operations agency.

03:44 PM GMT

Western troops in Iraq targeted in drone attack claimed by pro-Iran group

A drone targeted Western troops at a military base in Iraq on Wednesday, a US military official said, in an attack claimed by a pro-Iran militant group.

“A one-way attack drone was launched against US and Coalition forces at (Ain) al-Asad Airbase” in western Iraq, the official who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP, adding it caused no causalities or damage.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed the attack. The pro-Iran group has been carrying out its attacks in response to the United States’ support for Israel in its nearly two-month war with Hamas.

03:28 PM GMT

Israel condemned UN response to sexual violence allegations

The Israeli foreign ministry has condemned the United Nations’s response to allegations of sexual violence by Hamas during its October 7 attack.

Catherine Russell, head of the UN children’s agency UNICEF, described the accounts of sexual violence on October 7 as “horrific” earlier today.

Spokesman Lior Haiat blasted Russell for not mentioning the alleged perpetrators.

“The fact that she (Russell) doesn’t mention the Hamas terror organisation is another way of turning a blind eye on the atrocities that Hamas did,” he said.

“By not mentioning Hamas she is legitimising their activities”.

03:15 PM GMT

US Navy shot down a drone originating from Houthi-controlled part of Yemen

The US Navy shot down a drone originating from a part of Yemen that is controlled by the Houthi group on Wednesday morning, a US defence official who declined to be named said.

03:02 PM GMT

IDF raids 'headquarters of a Hezbollah terrorist operational command'

The Israeli Defence Force has raided the “headquarters of a Hezbollah terrorist operational command” in Lebanon, according to IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee.

He added that IDF tanks and artillery have also shelled targets inside Lebanon.

Several shells were also monitored from Lebanon toward a military site near Arab Al-Aramsha and Jabal Al-Sheikh area.

02:46 PM GMT

German state will require support for Israel to gain citizenship

Those applying for citizenship in the German state of Saxony Anhalt must now declare their support for Israel’s right to exist.

According to the decree, Israel’s right to exist is Germany’s “Staatsräson” or “reason of state”, German media has reported.

“Acquiring German citizenship requires a commitment to Israel’s right to exist,” the decree said.

Applicants must also confirm in writing “that they recognize Israel’s right to exist and condemn any efforts directed against the existence of the State of Israel”, it added.

02:28 PM GMT

100 aid trucks preparing to enter Gaza

Aid trucks are preparing to enter Gaza, according to the Egyptian Red Crescent.

Dr Khaled Zayed, the head of the organisation in North Sinai, said around 100 trucks will follow two fuel trucks that entered earlier today.

The trucks carried around 65,000 litres of fuel.

He added that 19 wounded Palestinians and 19 companions had been sent to hospitals in North Sinai after arriving in Egypt.

Patients were also transferred to Italian and French hospital ships at al Arish seaport.

02:14 PM GMT

Pictured: Israeli troops seize Hamas weapons

The IDF said its troops of the 460th Armored Brigade and the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion discovered one of the largest caches of weapons during operations in the northern Gaza Strip.

Hamas weapons
Hamas weapons - IDF
Hamas weapons
Hamas weapons - IDF
Hamas weapons
Hamas weapons - IDF

01:59 PM GMT

UNICEF condemns sexual violence in Hamas attacks

The head of the United Nations children’s agency condemned on Wednesday acts of sexual violence committed against women during Hamas’s October 7 attack.

In a post on X, UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell called the accounts of sexual violence “horrific”.

“Survivors must be heard, supported, and provided with care,” she added.

“Allegations must be fully investigated. We condemn gender-based violence and all forms of violence against women and girls.”

01:47 PM GMT

France condemns Israeli shelling that killed Lebanese soldier

France on Wednesday condemned shelling by Israel in south Lebanon that resulted in the death of a Lebanese soldier, a spokesperson for the French foreign ministry said.

“France is gravely concerned by the ongoing clashes on the border between Lebanon and Israel. France condemns the Israeli strike which cost the life of a member of the Lebanese armed forces, and sends its sincere condolences to the victim’s relatives,” said the ministry spokesperson in a daily briefing.

One Lebanese soldier was killed and three wounded when Israeli shelling hit near a border village in south Lebanon, the Lebanese army said in a statement on Tuesday.

01:32 PM GMT

Watch: IDF sets up pumps to flood Hamas tunnels

01:04 PM GMT

Surface-to-surface missiles intercepted

A surface-to-surface missile was intercepted by Israel’s military after it was launched towards Eilat in southern Israel.

Israeli forces said they were responding to a “number of launches” from Lebanon in the north of the country.

It said the launches had been aimed at IDF military posts.

The IDF said in a message on Telegram:

“Following the report regarding sirens that sounded in the city of Eilat, a launch of a surface-to-surface missile toward Israel was identified, and was successfully intercepted in the area of the Red Sea by the “Arrow” aerial defence system. The target did not cross into Israeli territory [and] did not pose a threat to civilians.”

It added:

“A short while ago, a number of launches were identified from Lebanon. The IDF is striking the sources of the fire. Furthermore, since this morning, IDF tanks and artillery have been striking several locations in Lebanon and IDF aircraft struck a military command center and military infrastructure belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization.”

12:52 PM GMT

IDF uncovers weapons stockpile near school

A large stockpile was uncovered near a clinic and school in northern Gaza, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The IDF said the weapons cache “contained hundreds of missiles and RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) launchers of various types, dozens of anti-tank missiles, dozens of explosive charges, long-range missiles aimed at the centre of the State of Israel, dozens of grenades and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Some weapons were destroyed in a nearby field while others were taken away for further investigation, they added.

IDF soldiers could be seen loading ammunition and weapons into vehicles.

12:31 PM GMT

Japan PM says casualties should be minimised

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone on Wednesday that it was important to minimise civilian casualties in the conflict with Hamas, the Japanese government said.

“Prime Minster Kishida stated continued growth in the number of civilian casualties should be avoided, and that it is important to calm the situation swiftly, minimise civilian casualties and observe international law including international humanitarian law,” a Foreign Ministry announcement said.

In response, Netanyahu set out Israel’s position on the military operation in Gaza, the announcement said, without elaborating.

11:57 AM GMT

Turkey rejects 'buffer zone' plan for Gaza

Turkey has rejected plans to establish a post-war buffer zone in Gaza because it would be disrespectful to Palestinians, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Last week, Israel had conveyed plans for the buffer zone to several Arab states and Turkey.

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Doha, Erdogan said Gaza’s governance and future after the war would be decided by Palestinians alone.

“I consider even the debating of this (buffer-zone) plan as disrespectful to my Palestinian siblings. For us, this is not a plan that can be debated, considered, or discussed,” Erdogan’s office quoted him as saying.

Calling for Israel to hand back territories it occupies and end settlements in those territories, he said: “Israel must remove the terrorists - which it markets to the world as settlers - from those houses and those lands, and think about how it can build a peaceful future with Palestinians.”

11:39 AM GMT

Pictured: Armed woman in Jerusalem

An armed woman has been seen walking through Jerusalem during increased tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

Gunmen, claimed by Hamas to be members of their group, shot numerous people at a bus stop on Thursday morning on the outskirts of Jerusalem before being shot dead.

An armed woman walks through Jerusalem
An armed woman walks through Jerusalem - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

11:24 AM GMT

Malaysian police arrest man over statements supporting diplomatic relations with Israel

Malaysian police said on Wednesday they have arrested a 36-year-old man to assist in a sedition probe regarding statements he made supporting diplomatic relations with Israel.

Malaysia, a majority-Muslim country, is a staunch supporter of Palestine and does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

11:15 AM GMT

Scotland’s First Minister's relatives allowed to leave Gaza

Scotland’s First Minister has said his relatives in Gaza have been told they can leave via the Rafah border crossing to Egypt but are unable to get there.

Humza Yousaf posted on social media: “My brother-in-law, his wife and four children (the youngest is four months old) have been told they can leave Gaza through Rafah.

“The problem is, they have no way of getting there, and even if they did, the fighting is ongoing.

“An impossible situation.

“We need a ceasefire now.”

10:58 AM GMT

UK agency reports drone attack in Red Sea

An incident involving a drone in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen has been reported by the UK maritime trade operations agency.

The agency advised those in the area to “exercise caution” and report any suspicious activity.

The Iran-allied Houthi group has attacked shipping in the region recently intending to damage Israeli interests.

10:34 AM GMT

Palestinians in Gaza living in 'utter, deepening horror'

Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are living in “utter, deepening horror”, the UN human rights chief said Wednesday as he called for an urgent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

“Civilians in Gaza continue to be relentlessly bombarded by Israel and collectively punished... Palestinians in Gaza are living in utter, deepening horror,” Volker Turk told a press conference.

10:23 AM GMT

Four people shot during Israeli raids in West Bank

Four people were wounded during Israeli raids in the  Balata refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus.

One man was shot in the head and remains in a critical condition, according to Ahmed Jibril, the director of the Red Crescent Ambulance and Emergency Centre in Nablus.

Three other men were also shot but remain in a stable condition.

One Palestinian was arrested by Israeli forces before they withdrew from the camp, locals have claimed.

10:09 AM GMT

Israeli army says 'Red Cross must have access to hostages' in Gaza

The Israeli army said Wednesday that the International Committee of the Red Cross “must have access to the hostages” still being held by Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

“As the IDF (military) expands its operations to dismantle Hamas in Gaza, we have not lost sight... of our critical mission to rescue our hostages,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari said.

“The international community must take action. The Red Cross must have access to the hostages that are in the hands of Hamas.”

09:48 AM GMT

Israel cautions against reports of child hostage's death

Israel has cautioned against believing Hamas reports that the youngest hostage had been killed alongside his four-year-old brother and their mother.

Ten-month-old Kfir Bibas was allegedly killed during an IDF strike on Gaza, but there has been no further confirmation of this and Israel’s military in still uncertain about their fate.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner said:

“We can’t confirm at this stage what Hamas said, and I’d be very cautious in accepting anything that Hamas says to begin with.

“Of course, you know, we’re utilizing our intelligence in order to try and determine their situation. I don’t have anything to report at this stage.”

Lerner added that Israel is “concerned” about the well-being of the hostages still held in Gaza and demanded that the Red Cross be able to assess them.

09:40 AM GMT

Supplies at al-Aqsa Hospital at 'critical level'

Supplies at al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza are at critically low levels due to road enclosures despite hundreds of patients being admitted per day, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The hospital, which is running out of both fuel and medical supplies, has been receiving 150 to 200 wounded patients since the truce ended on Friday, its director has said.

Marie-Aure Perreaut Revial, the MSF emergency coordinator in Gaza, said:

“There are 700 patients admitted in the hospital now, with new patients arriving all the time. We are running out of essential supplies to treat them.

“Shortages of medicine and fuel could result in the hospital being unable to provide life-saving surgeries or intensive care.

“Without electricity, ventilators would cease to function, blood donations would have to stop, the sterilisation of surgical instruments would be impossible.

“It is vital that the supply of humanitarian supplies is facilitated. The hospital urgently needs surgical sets, external fixators to hold broken bones together, and essential drugs, including drugs for chronic illnesses.”

09:23 AM GMT

Israel issues fresh evacuation orders

Israel has warned displaced people east of Khan Younis to “evacuate immediately”.

Palestinians located in shelters and schools located in the Bani Suhaila roundabout and four of their designated “blocks” – 50, 51, 52 and 219 - were directed to leave on Wednesday.

COGAT, a branch of Israel’s defence ministry, told residents to evacuate along l-Quds Street to the shelters in the west of Khan Younis and the Nasser Medical Complex area.

It said that the Israeli army is responding with “extreme force” against Hamas in the area.

09:13 AM GMT

Gaza health officials claim 45 civilians killed in Israeli strike

Gaza health officials said many civilians were killed in an Israeli strike on houses in Deir al-Balah, north of Khan Younis.

Dr Eyad Al-Jabri, head of the Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital there, told Reuters at least 45 people were killed.

Hamas’ media office said on Tuesday at least 16,248 people including 7,112 children and 4,885 women had been killed in Gaza by Israel’s military since October 7.

Thousands more are missing and feared buried under rubble.

Those figures were not immediately verified by the Gaza health ministry.

09:00 AM GMT

Pictured: Israeli assaults on Gaza

Israel launched one of its heaviest assaults on Gaza yet overnight.

IDF photos
IDF photos - IDF
IDF forces in Gaza
IDF forces in Gaza - IDF
IDF forces in Gaza
IDF forces in Gaza - IDF

08:50 AM GMT

Hamas kidnap victim in 'serious condition'

Hanna Katzi, one of the hostages released by Hamas last month, is in a “serious condition” after her health deteriorated following captivity.

The Times of Israel reports that on army radio, the daughter of the 77-year-old said “My mother’s condition is serious, her condition has deteriorated following the captivity.

“She had no heart problems when she was kidnapped, but now she has severe heart problems due to harsh conditions and starvation.

“She came back both heartbroken and with cardiological problems.”

It is thought that her son Elad remains in captivity in Gaza.

08:39 AM GMT

Israel reviewing strike that harmed Lebanese troops

The Israeli army said on Wednesday it was reviewing a strike that harmed Lebanese troops in south Lebanon, an apparent reference to Israeli shelling that killed a Lebanese soldier and wounded three others the previous day.

“The Lebanese Armed Forces were not the target of the strike. The IDF expresses regret over the incident. The incident is under review,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

Israel and the heavily armed Lebanese group Hezbollah have been exchanging fire across the Lebanese-Israeli border since October 7.

The Lebanese army said the soldier, a sergeant, was killed when an army position was shelled by Israel on Tuesday.

The Israeli army said its soldiers had acted in “self-defense to eliminate an imminent threat that had been identified from Lebanon” from a “known launch area and observation point” used by Hezbollah.