Egypt restricts underground smuggling along Gaza borders

10:48, April 25, 2010      

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Egyptian security measures along Gaza borders have led to a shrink in smuggling via underground tunnels, a Palestinian daily reported on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Palestinian security sources told Xinhua that the Egyptian forces had blown up a smuggling tunnel that ending into the Egyptian part of Rafah city in southern Gaza Strip.

Blowing up the tunnel was a part of the ongoing Egyptian efforts to fight smuggling which flourished in 2008 and 2009 as a result of an Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza when Hamas took power there in June 2007.

The sources said that the Palestinian workers in the tunnel received warnings and fled before the tunnel explosion and nobody was hurt.

Last week, four tunnels had been discovered and the Egyptian forces sealed off their shafts on its territories and put marks in preparation for destroying them, the sources said.

According to the Ramallah-based al-Ayyam newspaper, Egypt continues building a steel barrier aimed at stemming the smuggling, destroying the tunnels and preventing the digging of new ones.

The report added that the smuggling of goods has notably decreased as the result of the steel barrier construction which destroys tunnels so far.

There are some hundreds of underground tunnels along its 10-km Gaza border, Gazans are using them to bring in all kinds of commodities to get rid of the Israeli sanctions.

According to the report, Egypt stepped up security presence on the border and the smugglers find it difficult to deliver the goods to the Gazans of the tunnels.

The building of the steel wall, which goes down for more than a dozen meter deep into the ground, has taken place in areas that are not crowded with tunnels and work is approaching the Egyptian lands opposite to Al-Salam neighborhood where is crowded with tunnels. As the construction is going on, it is believed that most of the underground tunnels would not be sustained.

Recently, Israel has lifted the ban on importing bottled water, wood, aluminum, glass and clothes to Gaza. As a result, demand on bringing the goods from Egypt through tunnels has been decreased.

Source: Xinhua


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