Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime has been flooding Hamas smuggling tunnels for three days in a move that may be aimed at punishing Sinai terrorists who threaten Cairo’s authority but also may be a warning to Hamas of who is the boss.
Ironically, heavy rains last month forced Hamas to close the tunnels, but now Egypt is taking over where nature left off.
In fact, Egypt started sealing off he tunnels last year by using cement, but flooding them is more efficient although more deadly for anyone trapped in the tunnels.
The smuggling tunnels have long been a source of up to one-third of goods and merchandise, including diesel fuel, for Gaza. They also are a vehicle for terrorists to travel between Gaza and the northern Sinai and for the flow of advanced arms and explosives.
Cairo has not forgotten that terrorists killed 16 Egyptian soldiers and policemen last August in a well-planned attack that also targeted Israel. Hamas denied Egyptian charges that the terrorists arrived in the northern Sinai through tunnels, but in a region where the truth is a lie and the lie only sometimes is the truth, Egypt rejected Hamas’ innocence and has shut down approximately 200 smuggling tunnels since then.
This week’s flooding dampens any illusion by Hamas that it is the Muslim Brotherhood government’s favorite son, even though it was the Brotherhood that gave birth to Hamas decades ago.
Nicolas Pelham, a writer on Arab affairs for The Economist and the New York Review of Books, wrote for the Institute of Palestine Studies last summer that Hamas euphoria over the Muslim Brotherhood victory in Egypt’s election was premature.
“Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011 could yet spell the collapse of the tunnel economy,” according to Pelham.
“Led by Hamas leaders, Gazans look to Egypt’s new Islamist leadership to dismantle the siege structures and open the crossing to overland goods traffic…. In a sign of renewed leverage over Gaza, and reflecting a desire to cut their subsidy bill, the Egyptian authorities blocked tanker trucks en route to Gaza hauling heavily subsidized Egyptian gasoline….
“The shortages not only rendered life uncomfortable, [but] they [also] deprived it of the dynamo to power more reconstruction. With Gaza’s fate increasingly intertwined with Egypt’s, the dominance of the military government, along with the Muslim Brotherhood’s focus on domestic affairs, cast a pall over the prospects for Gaza’s trade ties with Egypt.”