CAIRO: Israeli F-16s bombed the area on the Egypt-Gaza border Monday near the Rafah border crossing in a further aerial offensive on the purported smuggling tunnels running underneath.
The strikes were conducted at 4 am local time and spanned a major part of the length of the border, witnesses in the area told Daily News Egypt.
No injuries were reported in the latest strike, and Egyptian homes alongside the border have been evacuated for some time. The town of Rafah is still heavily manned by central security forces and checkpoints have been set up throughout the town.
“There is a big show of power in the town because Egypt wants to show Israel and the West that it is taking the issue of the tunnels seriously. There is a noose being tightened around the town of Rafah, Khalil Jaber, a stringer and resident of Rafah, told Daily News Egypt.
As part of this tactic, some types of goods are not being allowed into Rafah at all and are being confiscated at the town of Sheikh Zowayed 15 km away. Arrests of people suspected to being involved in the tunnels are also taking place in Rafah, according to Jaber.
However, this has not completely eradicated the tunnel activity which is still continuing. And as for the Israeli strikes on the tunnel exits, Jaber stated that every tunnel has more than one exit and when one is destroyed the others are used.
Israel stated that the strikes, along with further strikes in Northern Gaza in which one man was allegedly killed, were in response to rocket attacks on Southern Israel earlier on Monday.
Even though the 22-day war on Gaza has supposedly ended in a ceasefire that was called on Jan. 18, there are still sporadic attacks back and forth and Israel had declared it reserved the right to continue air strikes against targets it deemed necessary.
More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed and over 5,000 wounded during the three-week onslaught on Gaza.
Egypt is currently attempting to broker a sustainable truce between Hamas and Israel, which would lift the siege on the Gaza Strip and resolve the situation of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
“Egypt could be tightening security at the border and on the tunnels to add pressure on Hamas to accept the truce with Israel and its terms, Jaber said.