Egypt arrests Palestinian toy smugglers

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CAIRO: Egyptian security forces arrested three Palestinian smugglers and uncovered three tunnels near Egypt s border with the Gaza Strip, a security official said on Tuesday.

The smugglers were nabbed after emerging from a tunnel, which they were using to slip a large quantity of children s toys into the coastal strip, the official said.

The Rafah border crossing with Egypt is the only one into Gaza not controlled by Israel, which has enforced a blockade on the territory since Hamas, which Israel regards as a terrorist group, seized power there in 2007.

Last week, three Palestinians died when a tunnel collapsed, bringing to at least 40 the number of smugglers who have died this year in collapses.

Israel says Palestinians use the tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza and has asked Egypt to do more in closing the tunnels.

Palestinians say the tunnels are a lifeline to the territory, where the United Nations says more than half of residents live below the poverty line.

Egypt occasionally allows Palestinians to enter and leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing, but has refused to open it permanently. -AFP

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