Sunday, December 3, 2023

Israel to flood Hamas tunnels with nerve gas under US navy supervision: Report

Palestinian resistance groups expect Israel to flood Hamas tunnels with nerve gas and chemical weapons under the surveillance of US Delta Force commandos as part of a surprise attack on the Gaza Strip, a senior Arab source familiar with the group told Middle East Eye.

Israel and the US hope to achieve the element of surprise in order to penetrate Hamas tunnels, rescue an estimated 220 hostages, and kill thousands of soldiers belonging to Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades, the source said in a statement, noting that the information comes from a leak originating in the US.

“The plan hinges on the element of surprise so as to decisively win the battle, using internationally forbidden gases, particularly nerve gas, and chemical weapons. Large quantities of nerve gas would be pumped into the tunnels,” the source added.

US Delta Force will oversee “large quantities of nerve gas being pumped into Hamas tunnels, capable of paralyzing the bodily movement for a period of time between six and 12 hours.”

“During this period, the tunnels would be penetrated, the hostages rescued and thousands of al-Qassam soldiers killed,” the source added.

The US is engaging with Israel on its expected invasion of Gaza.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has held near-daily phone calls with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, to discuss operations, while senior US military officials with knowledge of urban warfare have been dispatched to Israel.

During Biden’s visit to Israel last week, where he participated in a war planning session, President Biden accidentally shared a photograph that reportedly disclosed the faces of three Delta Force commandos advising Israel on hostage rescue. The post was later deleted.

Delta Force is an elite branch of the US Army Special Operations Forces. They are trained in hostage rescue, counterterrorism and “kill or capture” missions aimed at high-value targets.

They have first-hand experience participating in the rescue of hostages from the Islamic State (IS) group and conducting raids against the group’s leaders as part of the US’s campaign to defeat IS.

The leaked information says Israel’s delay in its ground invasion is misinformation aimed at gaining the element of surprise in a multifaceted attack that will include Israeli commandos landing in northern Gaza and along the coast.

The operational details of the attack have already been agreed upon, according to the source.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had agreed to delay its expected ground invasion to allow the US more time to place air defence systems in the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said later on Wednesday that Israel is preparing a ground invasion but gave no indication of timing or other details.

Israeli media outlets have also cited leaks regarding divisions within Israel’s three-member war cabinet made up of Netanyahu, Benny Gantz and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

The source said “though not without grounds” the reports “represent a deception attempt aimed at surprising the resistance” in the Gaza Strip.

The war erupted on 7 October after Hamas led an attack in southern Israel. According to Israeli officials, around 1,400 people were killed in Israel during the assault, the majority believed to be civilians. At least another 220 people were taken as prisoners to Gaza, including soldiers and civilians.

Israel has retaliated with a mass bombardment of Gaza that has killed at least 6,500 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian health ministry. More than 70 percent of those killed are children, women and the elderly.

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