The Egyptian army says it will press ahead with its campaign in the Sinai Peninsula, keeping the Gaza Strip closed to the outside world, as the Rafah border crossing to the coastal enclave is still shut.
Egypt’s military has tightened the restriction in Rafah and created hardships for Gazans in the aftermath of July’s ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The military has also increased the destruction of the tunnels on the Egyptian side of the border with the besieged Gaza Strip since Morsi’s fall.
“In the period since July the armed forces have destroyed more than 154 tunnels used for smuggling along our borders with the Gaza Strip as well as 108 tanks containing around four million liters of gasoline or diesel fuel, ” army spokesman Ahmed Ali said.
Earlier this week, Egyptian armed forces blew up a number of tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt. About 80 percent of the tunnels, which are used to transfer goods and medicines into Gaza from Egypt, are no longer functional due to similar incidents carried out by the Egyptian security forces. Palestinians say the tunnels are the only resort to provide food and other basic needs for Gazans. On September 11, Egyptian authorities also shut down Rafah border crossing following fatal bomb attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula. The Rafah crossing is Gaza's sole gateway to the outside world as many people in the blockaded Palestinian coastal enclave avoid traveling through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing in northern Gaza. Gazans argue that the closure of the Rafah crossing has increased their suffering and will leave them at the mercy of the Israeli-controlled crossing. Israel imposed an all-out land, aerial, and naval blockade on Gaza in June 2007 after the democratically-elected Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, took over the administration of the territory.