Egypt finds 60 Gaza tunnels in 10 months

Security report claims 20,000 tons of explosives were seized in that time; ammo found in Sinai mountains.

Tunnel Rafah 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Tunnel Rafah 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Egypt has uncovered 60 tunnels along its borders with the Gaza Strip and seized about 20,000 tons of explosives in the Sinai Peninsula over the past 10 months, said an Egyptian security report obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday. The report, which provides details about tunnels, weapons smuggling and arrests of would-be suicide bombers, aims at countering Israeli accusations that Egypt is not doing enough to stop Palestinian smugglers, an Egyptian security official said. The official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue with the media, did not specify whether the report would be made public. The report describes each tunnel in detail, listing its depth, width, distance from the border and the names of the owners of the land where it was uncovered. Several tunnel entrances were dug inside private houses on Egypt's side of the border, the report says. Besides 20,000 tons of TNT explosives, Egyptian authorities recovered some mines, detonators, hand-grenades and ammunition, along with other goods smuggled into the increasingly isolated Gaza Strip such as cigarettes, car spare-parts, and medicine. The explosives were found mainly stocked in plastic bags and hidden deep in mountainous areas of the Sinai, where local Bedouin tribes played a key role in helping police trace the smugglers' hideouts, the report said. It also gave details on the arrests of three groups of Palestinians earlier this year, some of whom were caught carrying explosive belts with the alleged intention of infiltrating into Israel to carryout suicide attacks. Hundreds of immigrants from different nationalities were also arrested while trying to cross into Israel or the Palestinian Territories, the report said. Gaza's borders have been largely closed-off since last June, when Hamas took over. Israel has complained of increased Palestinian weapons smuggling and contraband through tunnels with Egypt, and blamed Egyptian authorities for not doing enough to stop this. Egypt has rejected the allegations but recently said it would make a greater effort to crack down on trafficking. Authorities now say they publicize every tunnel and weapons cache it discovers.