Egypt Destroys 12 Smuggling Tunnels on Border With Gaza

Israel has eased its embargo on the territory, but trade is still restricted, maintaining a demand for the tunnels.

Egypt destroyed 12 smuggling tunnels leading into the Gaza Strip, security sources said Saturday. The tunnels were found at various points along the Sinai Peninsula's small border with Gaza.

Palestinian smuggler climbing down into an underground tunnel leading from Gaza to Egypt, in 2010. Reuters

The sources said the soldiers involved in blowing up the tunnels maintained contact with officials on the Gazan side of the border, to ensure that no people were underground during the process.

Following the deaths of nine Turkish activists in late May who were part of a flotilla aimed at breaking the blockade on the coastal territory, Israel and Egypt have slightly relaxed the embargoed goods into Gaza.

Israel now lets in more food items and some construction materials, but the building supplies are only for the United Nations, leaving regular Gazans dependent on the tunnels for numerous items.

The blockade on Gaza was tightened after the Islamist Hamas movement took control of the territory in 2007. Since then all exports have also been banned and this has yet to be lifted.

Egypt has kept its border crossing at Rafah open since June, the longest period in the history of the blockade, to allow Palestinians with the appropriate paperwork to cross back and forth, though many say they are still denied movement.