Palestinian officials in the Gaza Strip have warned of the dangers of an Egyptian plan to flood the Egypt-Gaza border with seawater in an effort to destroy cross-border tunnel activity.
According to Mazen Al-Banna, vice-president of Gaza’s Water Authority, the move poses a “serious threat to the national security of both Egypt and Palestine because they both share the same aquifer.”
Speaking at a joint press conference with officials from the Water Authority and other agencies, he said: “Egypt has begun to dig deep water reservoirs and laid pipes underground containing high-salinity seawater with a view to destroying the cross-border tunnels.”
This, Al-Banna warned, “could lead to the destruction of the aquifer.”
“Pumping sea water into the reservoirs, which could leak into the aquifer, will be devastating for both sides’ economic, food and environmental security,” he said.
Last week, reports emerged that the Egyptian military had begun pumping water from the Mediterranean Sea into the reservoirs with a view to destroying the cross-border tunnels that the blockaded Gaza Strip relies on to import desperately-needed commodities.
“About a week ago, the Egyptian army began using heavy equipment to lay massive water pipes – up to 60-centimetres in diameter – along the Egypt-Gaza border,” a Palestinian security source told the Anadolu Agency earlier.
“The aim of laying these enormous pipes is to inundate the tunnels with water from the Mediterranean without having to find their exact location,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Such a move, the source added, “will very quickly lead to the collapse of the tunnels.”
Al-Banna called on the UN and the international environmental organisations to intervene to halt the “catastrophic” project.