Sinai Attack: Anxiety, Egypt intends to shut down Gaza tunnels

Anxiety, Egypt intends to shut down Gaza tunnels

08 August, 20:27

A Palestinian smuggler cleaning a destroyed tunnel that runs under the border between Egypt  and the southern Gaza Strip (archive) A Palestinian smuggler cleaning a destroyed tunnel that runs under the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip (archive)

(ANSAMed) - GAZA - While the majority of Palestinian public opinion is indignant over the killing of 16 Egyptian border guards by an armed commando on Sunday, many fear Egypt's retaliation will translate into a collective punishment against the people of Gaza.

Egypt has announced it intends to destroy the tunnels linking the Sinai to the Strip, and heavy earth moving equipment has been gathering at the southern extremity of Gaza. There are an estimated 1000 tunnels, of which 400 are heavily used for contraband, but also to bring prime necessities into Gaza. Egypt, which is investigating Sunday's raid, suspects the commando infiltrated the Sinai through one of these tunnels. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is on the one hand reluctant to openly oppose Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood leadership, while on the other, it needs to keep the tunnels open for business, as they bring a significant amount of revenue to the heavily embargoed Strip.

To make matters worse, following Sunday's attack Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing, which is the only other option for Palestinians wishing to avoid Israeli checkpoints. The head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, recently returned from a visit to Cairo with Morsi's assurance that the Rafah crossing would stay open, but the Sunday attack changed that.

In Gaza, public opinion believes Morsi to be reluctant to shut down the Rafah crossing, a hard line it ascribes to Egyptian Military Council chief, Hussein Tantawi. The prevalent feeling is one of anxiety, that the people of Gaza will fall victim to power struggles in Cairo. (ANSAMed).

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