Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Hamas security guard at the closed gate of the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, May 17, 2013.

The IDF revealed about 50 tunnels leading from Egypt to Rafah, Kan 11 News reported Saturday night. Locating and destroying these tunnels is important to preventing the smuggling of weapons, money, and terrorists from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

Earlier on Saturday, the IDF spokesman announced that during the operation of the 401st Brigade in east Rafah, some 50 terrorists were eliminated and more than 70 tunnel shafts were located which are currently in the process of exploration and destruction: “Hundreds of terrorist infrastructures have been destroyed so far, including munitions production sites and launch sites ready to fire,” the spokesman said.

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In December, Kan 11 reported that the IDF was surveying the tunnels around the Philadelphi axis, on the border of Egypt and the Gaza Strip, to prevent senior Hamas officials from fleeing to Egypt or smuggling Israeli hostages out of Gaza.

The smuggling tunnels of the Gaza Strip are dug under the separation barrier between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and have been used, since the 1980s, by Arab terrorist organizations, merchants (including major wholesalers), and criminal gangs to smuggle weapons and goods from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, and to smuggle People in both directions.

The construction of the Philadelphia axis and the fence along it began in January 1982. The construction work continued until April 1983, during which 330 houses were evacuated and destroyed, a 120-foot-wide strip was created on the ground, an electronic system fence was built, and the Rafah crossing was established surrounded by 4 fences.

As part of the expulsion of Gush Katif, and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the IDF handed over the Philadelphi axis to the Palestinian Authority. But in 2007, Hamas ejected the PA from Gaza and remained in control of Rafah until it was pushed out by Israel last month. In those 17 years, Hamas conducted major digging projects under all of Gaza, including new tunnels into Egypt.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.