Cairo, 27 Jumadil Akhir 1434/7 May 2013 (MINA) – Egyptian forces uncovered 276 previously unknown smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza on Monday.

       Egyptian security officials told Ma’an that 154 tunnels had been destroyed and 94 would be demolished soon. Security forces are struggling to destroy some 28 tunnels constructed under residential properties.

       All the tunnel openings have been blocked temporarily with rocks, security sources added.

       Israel imposed its blockade for what it called security reasons in 2007. The United Nations has appealed for it to be lifted, Maan quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

       At one stage an estimated 2,500-3,000 tunnels snaked their way under the desert fence but the network has shrunk markedly since 2010, when Israel eased some of the limits they imposed on imports into the coastal enclave.

      All goods still have to be screened before entering Gaza and Israel says some restrictions must remain on items that could be used to make or to store weapons.

      This ensures the tunnels are still active, particularly to bring in building materials. Hamas also prefers using the tunnels to smuggle in fuel, thereby avoiding custom dues that are payable on oil crossing via Israel.

      Meanwhile, Egyptian Ambassador to Indonesia, Bahaa Dessouki, in an exclusive interview with MINA’s reporters in Jakarta, Monday (29/4) told,that Egypt assume that the tunnels were endangering Egypt’s security

      Dessouki say, Egypt have opened the gate of Rafah and allow humanitarian convoys to enter through that gate.

      “We have done it since the beginning of the turn from President Hosni Mubarak to President Mohamed Mursi until now. So, about the distribution of goods to Gaza, there is no problem,” Dessouki said.

      The Egyptian government today also urges Israel to keep opening the gate of Kareem Abu Salem in southern Gaza. So, the flow of goods from West Bank can enter into Gaza.

      “Right now, the gate is still under Israeli control. Hopefully the more gates will be open for Gaza; the access of goods into Gaza would be easier and become cheaper,” he added. (T/P09/E1).

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

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