Egypt uncovers 276 smuggling tunnels under Gaza border
Published Monday 06/05/2013 (updated) 07/05/2013 17:18
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian forces uncovered 276 previously unknown smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza on Monday.
Egyptian security officials told Ma'an that 154 tunnels had been destroyed and 94 would be demolished soon. Security forces are struggling to destroy some 28 tunnels constructed under residential properties.
All the tunnel openings have been blocked temporarily with rocks, security sources added.
Israel imposed its blockade for what it called security reasons in 2007. The United Nations has appealed for it to be lifted.
At one stage an estimated 2,500-3,000 tunnels snaked their way under the desert fence but the network has shrunk markedly since 2010, when Israel eased some of the limits they imposed on imports into the coastal enclave.
All goods still have to be screened before entering Gaza and Israel says some restrictions must remain on items that could be used to make or to store weapons.
This ensures the tunnels are still active, particularly to bring in building materials. Hamas also prefers using the tunnels to smuggle in fuel, thereby avoiding custom dues that are payable on oil crossing via Israel.