It has been going on for several months, but now it’s official, as reported by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, Egyptian border forces destroyed 10 smuggling tunnels and seven homes in the Sinai on Saturday as part of their new campaign to create a 500 yard wide buffer zone (5 football fields) along the border with the Gaza Strip.
The campaign began with a military operation in the border town of Rafah, where tunnels leading into the Gaza Strip were targeted in border neighborhoods, an Egyptian security source told Ma’an.
The source added that the tunnels were destroyed and the homes they were located in were blown up. The move was part of a wider campaign to set up a buffer zone along the border with Gaza in Rafah that would extend 300 meters in populated areas and 500 meters in open areas.
If anyone was wondering what motivated the Egyptians to act so emphatically to separate themselves from the Hams governed Gaza Strip, the same source also told Ma’an that Egyptian army forces on Saturday successfully foiled three explosive devices placed in military vehicles and armored cars in Sheikh Zuwaid, including two that were placed near the Sheikh Zuweid Hospital and a third on the road to a nearby village south of Sheikh Zuewid.
They’ve had enough of the pesky Palestinian terrorists spreading death wherever they turn, so they cut them off. Let Turkey help them.
The source added that Egyptian army forces raided “militant strongholds” in the village of al-Kharuba south of Sheikh Zuweid and destroyed three homes and five “hideouts.” Oh, and this is rich: they also destroyed an olive grove that was reportedly used to hide terrorists following attacks taking place on the nearby road to Rafah International crossing.
Ma’an reminded readers that until July 2013 tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory which was facing a “crippling Israeli blockade” since 2006. But since the coup against Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood president Morsi in July, Egypt has strictly enforced a blockade of its own and caved in the tunnels.
Egyptian Maj. Gen. Ahmad Ibrahim said last October that nearly 800 tunnels had been destroyed since the Morsi toppling, an estimated 95 percent of previously existing tunnels. Last night 10 more went under.
A day before the Egyptian action, during a rally in Rafah, Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior spokesman for Hamas, rebuked Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from negotiations with the U.S. and Israel, as the talks only serve to “terminate the question of Palestine and what is left of Palestinian rights and principles.”
In other words, by ostensibly reaching a resolution for the Palestinian’s plight the imagined peace deal would effectively end the struggle for a resolution to the Palestinian plight. Must be a chicken and egg thing.
“Nobody has authorized you (Abbas) to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people, or on behalf of Hamas or any other faction,” Abu Zuhri said. “Why don’t you tell the truth about what is going on in the secret negotiations? If you are honest, go out to your people and tell the truth and give them details.”
Back in 2006, Sami Abu Zuhri was trying to cross from Egypt into Gaza in Rafah, when he dropped a money belt with 900,000 euros in it. The law is one must declare any sum above $2,000. Abu Zuhri said it was all private donations. For the orphans.
Anyway, the Hamas spokesman also declared his movement would regard any international military presence within a future Palestinian state as “occupation” forces. So American and NATO troops are as bad as the IDF as far as Hamas is concerned.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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