Gaza: 14 killed as Egypt floods smuggling tunnels
By Hillel Fendel
Palestinian Authority news agency Ma’an reports that 14 Gazans are “missing,” following the flooding of a smuggling tunnel with seawater by Egyptian military forces.
Gazan rescue teams rescued seven tunnel workers, but were unable to locate 14 others. The incident occurred on Tuesday morning near Rafah, on the Egypt-Gaza border.
Initial reports that the Civil Defense had established contact with the 14 turned out to be false.
Ma’an managed to indirectly blame the apparent deaths on Israel, saying that the smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border “have served as a lifeline to the outside world for [Gaza] since Israel imposed a crippling siege on the coastal enclave in 2007.”
Ma’an acknowledged that the tunnels enable not only the delivery of food, medicine and other supplies – hundreds of truckloads of which Israel allows in daily – but also weapons. They also serve as an important source of tax revenue for Hamas.
The tunnels also serve as a conduit for anti-Egyptian terrorists to Sinai. As a result, Egypt has flooded hundreds of tunnels in the area, and has cleared out thousands of residents to build a 500-meter-wide buffer zone. Just yesterday, four Egyptian policemen were killed and four others were wounded when a roadside bomb was detonated under their armored vehicle in Rafah.
Israel, of course, is particularly sensitive to Hamas tunnels, hundreds of which have been built under the Israel-Gaza border over the years. IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in June 2006 through one of them – and two soldiers were killed at the same
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