The Egyptian army on Monday announced that it had destroyed the entrances of a number of cross-border tunnels in an ongoing crackdown on a network of subterranean passages linking Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
In a statement posted on Facebook, army spokesman Brigadier-General Mohamed Samir said that, during the month of November, the entrances of 20 cross-border tunnels had been destroyed in North Sinai.
Samir’s statement was accompanied by photos purportedly showing tunnel openings destroyed last month by the Egyptian border authorities.
For years, the Palestinian Gaza Strip – blockaded by Israel and Egypt since 2007 – had relied on the network of cross-border tunnels to import desperately-needed commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
Since the 2013 ouster of elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi by the military, however, the Egyptian army has done its best to find and destroy these tunnels, which, it says, are used to support militant activity in Sinai.
In September, the army went so far as to begin flooding the cross-border tunnel network with water from the Mediterranean Sea.
Last year, the Egyptian authorities began setting up a “buffer zone” along the border with the blockaded coastal enclave following a spate of militant attacks on Egyptian security personnel deployed in the volatile Sinai Peninsula.