'Egypt planning to destroy Gaza smuggling tunnels'

Security tightened at Egypt-Gaza border in attempt to bring lawless Sinai peninsula under tighter control, Egyptian newspaper reports.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
August 24, 2011 13:00
2 minute read.
Gaza Tunnel Destroyed [file]

Gaza Tunnel Destroyed 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Egyptian security forces were mapping the network of tunnels running between the Sinai peninsula and the Gaza Strip in preparation to destroy the smuggling tunnels, Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk quoted official sources as saying on Wednesday.

In addition, the security forces are tightening security at the Philadelphi Corridor, the line that separates Sinai and Gazan sides of the city of Rafah, in an attempt to bring the Sinai peninsula under tighter control.

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Egypt has been in pursuit of elements believed to be connected with acts of sabotage in Sinai, notably, repeated attempts to blow up the pipeline which  carries natural gas to both Jordan and Israel. In efforts to restrict the movement of these elements, Egypt has coordinated with Hamas to prevent infiltration across the border in either direction, according to the report. The report added that Egypt has made it clear to Hamas that any Palestinians caught infiltrating into Sinai will be handed over to Egyptian security authorities.

The Egyptian military has reinforced its security along the border with Israel in the aftermath of last week's multi-stage terror attack, emanating from Sinai, in which killed eight Israelis.

The day after the attack, a number of Egyptian security personnel were reportedly killed and wounded after a suicide bomber blew himself up on the Egyptian side of the Philadelphi Corridor.

Israeli security officials said that the suicide bomber appeared to belong to the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), which was behind the well-planned multi-stage attack near Eilat.  Egypt denied that the soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber and said that they were hit in an explosion caused by bombs that were planted along the border, likely by the terror cell.

Last week, after the Eilat attacks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with a number of senior Egyptian officials in an effort to coordinate ways to prevent similar attacks in the future. IDF sources were critical of the Egyptian military as the PRC gunmen who infiltrated Israel, passed an Egyptian military outpost and were not stopped.

“There seems to be an understanding in Egypt following the attacks that the situation there needs to change,” a senior IDF officer said on Friday. “We hope the attacks will serve as the wake-up call for Egypt, which will need to work hard to regain control of the peninsula.”

Senior officers from the Egyptian military reportedly visited Sinai and met with leaders of the three main Beduin tribes there to discuss ways to stop the violence in the peninsula.

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