Jack Khoury
February 11, 2013 - 1:00am

The Egyptian army has been destroying smuggling tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Sinai, said Palestinians who build them. The Egyptians have been flooding them, they said.

On its website, Hamas quotes both the owner of a tunnel and an Egyptian security official as saying that Egypt is reinforcing its troops on the border with the Gaza Strip, and that it has halted smuggling through most of the tunnels.

The Egyptian army also has begun flooding the tunnels that were rebuilt after Israel destroyed them during Operation Pillar of Defense, the sources quoted by Hamas said.

Water is considered a particularly effective and relatively inexpensive way to shut down the tunnels.

Unlike using explosives, this method does not involve weapons or endanger surrounding areas.

Flooded tunnels collapse, as happened when tunnels flooded amid the stormy weather earlier last month.

Three men were killed while working in a tunnel when it flooded due to the weather.

According to information given to the Hamas website, Egypt's army destroyed tunnels leading to the Rafah neighborhoods of al-Barazil and al-Salam on the Palestinian side, reported Hamas on its site.

The Egyptian soldiers are not allowing farmers to approach the area, it added.

The Egyptian army has increased its deployment along its border with the Gaza Strip and has been targeting smugglers since August 5, 2012, when 16 Egyptian border police were killed in a terror attack on the border.

A Palestinian official told Haaretz that Egypt's destruction of the tunnels is in keeping with the agreement to maintain calm reached between Hamas and Israel after Operation Pillar of Defense.

The Egyptians has become a party to the agreement, not just intermediaries, the official said.


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