Fact Check: Israel Did NOT Flood Tunnel In Gaza In Early December 2023, Washing Away A Train In Israel

Fact Check

  • by: Jamal Halaby
Fact Check: Israel Did NOT Flood Tunnel In Gaza In Early December 2023, Washing Away A Train In Israel Wrong Location

Did Israel pump seawater into Hamas militants' underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip in the first 10 days of December 2023, resulting in a train being washed away between the Israeli cities Sderot and Ashkelon? No, that's not true: The footage used to back up the claim was taken during the flood that swept across New Jersey in September 2021.

The claim, which appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok, was posted by @Divers82monde (archived here) on December 11, 2023, under the headline (translated from Arabic to English by Lead Stories staff):

The water pumped by the Israeli army in the tunnels of the resistance (Hamas) causes the drowning of a train linking the (Israeli) cities of Sderot and Ashkelon.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:


(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Dec 12 12:22:00 2023 UTC)

Sderot is situated 12.4 kilometers (7.7 miles) northeast of Gaza City, Ashkelon is further away at 21.2 kilometers (13 miles) to the north.

A Lead Stories reverse image search using a video excerpt of the video on Yandex (archived here) on December 12, 2023, led to a video of flooding in the state of New Jersey in the U.S., published on YouTube (archived here) on September 25, 2021. The digital news content provider NJ.com (archived here) reported on a flooded New Jersey transit train on September 7, 2021. It said that the Raritan Valley Line train "got stuck in flash floods and debris and blocked a set of flood gates from closing."

In September 2021, Hurricane Ida resulted in torrential rains with severe flooding in New Jersey, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The New York Times (archived here), quoting New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy, reported on October 13, 2021, that at least 23 people were killed in the flood that swept across the state.

Another search with the words "Israel floods Hamas tunnels in Gaza with water" on Google (archived here) on December 12, 2023, led to a video on Inter Vlog, a YouTube channel, that said that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had installed pipes and pumps to enable it to flood the Hamas tunnels in Gaza with seawater.

On December 13, 2023, the Wall Street Journal (archived here) reported, citing U.S. officials, that the IDF had begun pumping seawater into Hamas' "vast tunnel complex" in Gaza as "part of an intensive effort to destroy the underground infrastructure that underpins the group's operations." In an earlier report on December 4, 2023 (archived here), the newspaper said the IDF has set up five large water pumps near the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, which are capable of flooding the tunnels within weeks by pumping thousands of cubic meters of water per hour into them.

The Times of Israel (archived here) reported in a December 5, 2023, article that Israeli officials were reluctant to flood the tunnels before all hostages kidnapped by Hamas and other Palestinian militants during the attack in southern Israel on October 7, 2023, were released. At the time, according to the article, Israel referred to the obvious risk this would pose to the hostages held underground.

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  Jamal Halaby

Jamal Halaby is a fact-checker, who has been working with Lead Stories for nearly two years, helping bring the truth and factual information to the organization's global audience. With extensive background in investigative journalism and content writing and editing in Arabic and English, Jamal uses that experience to expose a burgeoning market of misinformation and disinformation. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Associated Press and several other reputable international news organizations. He has a passion for empirical analysis and discerning the veracity of the news.

Read more about or contact Jamal Halaby

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