The Armed Forces have announced the discovery of 276 smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt and the Gaza Strip. According to state-run news agency MENA, 154 have been demolished, 94 are set to be destroyed and the remaining 28 are being monitored due their location inside homes.
Major General Tahir Abdallah, president of the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces told MENA that 137 of theses tunnels have previously been destroyed but had been reopened. He confirmed that they were destroyed again through flooding and demolition. Abdallah asserted that the Armed Forces are using the latest technology to detect the tunnels, according to MENA.
An unnamed military source said that it is difficult to determine the time frame during which these tunnels were discovered because new ones are tunnelled all the time and many are reopened. He said the border is constantly monitored by the Armed Forces, stressing that it is in the interest of national security and is not part of any agreement with Israel.
The source said that the Armed Forces destroy the tunnels depending on the type of tunnel. Explosives are used for larger tunnels that are sometimes used to transport vehicles and are also flooded, while smaller tunnels are destroyed by machinery, said the source.
In March residents in Sinai reported that the Armed Forces had destroyed 235 tunnels. The destruction of these tunnels is an on-going operation by the Egyptian military to prevent smuggling from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.
The tunnels are a major source of resources for residents of the Gaza Strip due to an air, sea and land blockade of the strip by Israel since Hamas assumed control of the area in 2007. The tunnels are used to smuggle food, fuel, building materials, weapons and people.