UN says Egypt crackdown closes 80 percent of Gaza tunnels

July 23, 2013 23:35

UNITED NATIONS - About 80 percent of tunnels used to smuggle goods and arms into the Gaza Strip from Egypt are "no longer functioning" due to a crackdown by the Egyptian military after it ousted President Mohamed Morsi this month, a UN official said on Tuesday.

UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry told the UN Security Council that the Gaza Strip was experiencing "some serious shortages of fuel and basic building materials for which the tunnels had become the primary entry point due to severe restrictions on imports via the official crossings and the higher cost of fuel available from the West Bank and Israel."

Cairo moved to close the tunnels after militants in the Egyptian Sinai desert killed 16 of its soldiers a year ago. Egypt said some of the gunmen had slipped into Sinai from nearby Gaza, an accusation denied by the Islamist Hamas authorities.

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