GAZA, May 10 (Nidal al-Mughrabi/Reuters) - Palestinian tunnel-diggers are using welding torches to cut through a steel wall
Egypt is building to block the smuggling of goods and weapons into the Gaza Strip
, a tunnel operator said on Monday.
Even if the Egyptians installed 10 walls, we would find ways to cut through them, said tunnel builder Abu Nimer.
Under U.S. and Israeli pressure to stem subterranean smuggling into the Gaza Strip, Egypt has been hammering a steel wall into the ground along its border with the enclave, which is under Hamas
Islamist rule and an Israeli-led barricade.
Abu Nimer told Reuters it took the operator of an oxy-acetylene torch, a commonly-used industrial welding and cutting tool, a day to carve out a hole 1.5 metres in diameter.
After shoring up the breach, tunnellers resumed their work and business is going well, Abu Nimer said.
Besides a wide variety of consumer goods ordered by Palestinian merchants, weapons are also smuggled through the tunnels to Hamas and other militant factions.
Abu Nimer said several hundred tunnels were operational, down from about 3,000 that were open before Israel
launched a three-week offensive
in the Gaza Strip in December 2008. (Editing by Reed Stevenson)