RAMALLAH, September 5 (JMCC) - Egypt has renewed efforts to find and block smuggling tunnels leading from its territory into the Gaza Strip, reports the Telegraph
An estimated 100 tunnels are operating between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, a lifeline for cement and other items banned by Israel
through regular crossings.
But Egypt and Israel have expressed concern that armed groups are also using the tunnels to move weaponry and people, particularly after an easing of security in the Sinai since the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
With unemployment in Gaza reaching 45.5 per cent in the second half of 2010, the crippled economy has come to rely on the tunnel trade in goods banned under Israel's blockade, primarily cheap fuel and gravel for construction. Hamas officials monitor the operation closely, demanding a fee for all goods entering Gaza.
Mohamed, 24, a tunnel worker from Rafah makes £120 a day bringing 100 tonnes of gravel into Gaza from Egypt. He says the fall of Israeli ally President Hosni Mubarak and recent unrest in Libya have led to a surge in looted weapons and luxury cars coming into the Gaza Strip.
He told the Daily Telegraph: When Mubarak was in power, smuggling was difficult. Now it is much easier.
Expensive American cars have been coming from Libya for the past four months. Hamas gets $1000 for every car that comes through. Egypt has previously attempted to shut down the trade by boarding up the tunnel openings. An attempt to build an underground steel wall along the Egyptian border failed.