The Egyptian Army said Friday that it killed ten militants in Sinai, injured 13, and arrested six as part of raids in the area, according to a statement from the military spokesperson.
The statement further stated that ground forces supported by helicopters participated in the campaign, which roved Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah. The killed, injured, and arrested individuals were said to have been planning to attack police and army checkpoints.
The army said it also overtook control of an illegal underground tunnel, which was being used to “smuggle militants and ammunitions to and from the Gaza Strip”.
Egyptian security forces have destroyed many of the illegal underground tunnels lying beneath the Egypt-Gaza border. The Egyptian state announced that the army’s crackdown had put 80% of the tunnels out of operation.
Gaza has been under a land, air, and sea blockade since 2007 when Hamas took over the strip. The underground tunnels are essential to provide residents of Gaza with many products that would otherwise not make it over the border including food, medicine, fuel, and building materials.
Egypt-Hamas ties have been strained following the ousting of former Islamic president Mohamed Morsi, with media reports showing Hamas’ connections to internal conflict in Egypt and linking Hamas to insurgency in Sinai. Since the crackdown on the tunnels, Hamas has accused Egypt of “besieging Gaza” since the army has flooded the remaining tunnels.
Military operations in North Sinai targeting militants aim “to ultimately eliminate terrorism” in the volatile peninsula, where militants launch frequent attacks against security personnel and facilities.