The Egyptian army has commenced with another phase to eradicate Hamas’ tunnel network between Gaza and the Sinai.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
The Egyptian military has constructed a trench along its border with Gaza to prevent smugglers from operating in the area, the Egyptian army announced Monday, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
The trench, 20 meters deep and 10 meters wide, is located two kilometers from the border with Gaza outside of Rafah city, the report said.
This action by Egypt’s military is the latest development in a broader Egyptian campaign to create a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula. The ditch is intended to prevent smugglers from driving their vehicles to the opening of tunnels along the border and unloading their smuggled goods or weapons intended for Palestinian terror organizations.
Hamas uses the cross-border network of tunnels to smuggle everything from cigarettes to cars and weapons.
The Egyptian army says it has destroyed some 80 percent of the tunnels.
Ma’an quoted a military official who said that the army has further plans to expand the trench and install watchtowers along its length.
Egyptian Campaign to Stop Hamas Activity
The Egyptian army launched a broad campaign to destroy the Hamas smuggling tunnels and to create a buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza in February 2014, destroying hundreds of Palestinian homes in the process. Some 10,000 residents of the city of Rafah are expected to be affected by this latest Egyptian expansion of the buffer zone.
The military stepped up a campaign to build the buffer zone after a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October 2014.
Around 1,110 houses on the Egyptian side had been demolished by the end of April to make way for the expanding buffer zone, with more than 1,000 families displaced.
Egypt accuses Hamas of involvement in the smuggling of weapons through underground tunnels into the Sinai Peninsula and of actively attacking Egyptian military targets.
Egyptian military sources said earlier this month that in order to eradicate the potential danger of smuggling tunnels “once and for all,” the current no-go area should reach 5,000 meters and be protected with a water canal dug alongside it.