Business & Innovation
(photo credit:AP [file])
A delegation of Egyptian engineers has traveled to the American border with Mexico to learn techniques used by the US military to detect and destroy smuggling tunnels, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The visit was coordinated in line with the memorandum of understanding on arms smuggling signed earlier this month between Israel and the US. The US government has already deployed military engineers with tunnel-detection equipment in Sinai to assist the Egyptians in uncovering and destroying Hamas's smuggling tunnels.
The tunnels along America's southern border are used to move drugs and illegal migrants into the US.
Israeli defense officials said the Egyptian delegation was studying an American technique to detect and destroy tunnels by digging deep holes and detonating explosives inside in controlled explosions that topple tunnels dug nearby.
The Egyptian military is also expected to receive new tunnel detection equipment from Germany to be used along the Philadelphi Corridor. During Operation Cast Lead the IDF destroyed close to 300 tunnels, but some were left intact and Hamas is believed to have begun renovating the ones destroyed.
The defense officials said that Israel, Egypt, the US and the European Union will begin holding regular meetings in the coming weeks to exchange intelligence on weapons shipments being sent to Hamas by Iran.
An Iranian ship that tried crossing the Suez Canal earlier this week to the Mediterranean Sea was denied access by the Egyptian Navy after the US discovered it was carrying weapons.
IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan said Wednesday that the success of Operation Cast Lead was in getting the international community to enlist to stop the weapons smuggling into Gaza. He said that the countries understood that if the smuggling continued it would "destabilize the entire region."
"The tunnel openings are the end of the smuggling chain," Nehushtan said. "They can be hit now but it is clear that they will operate again in the future."
Officials also told the Post that since the Gaza offensive, Egypt has beefed up security in Sinai and erected a significant number of roadblocks on roads leading to Rafah, where policemen inspect cars and trucks entering the city.
Egypt is also reviewing several proposals made by Israel, including building a moat along the border and a barrier surrounding the Egyptian side of Rafah that will be manned by Egyptian soldiers who will not allow weapons smugglers into the town.
By ANNA AHRONHEIM
By ADAM RASGON
By JPOST.COM STAFF
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