A senior Palestinian official in Gaza yesterday denied Cairo’s claims that the Egyptian army undermined an attempted infiltration of 14 Palestinians from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula, Quds Press reported.
Head of Municipality of Rafah Fathi Ridwan said that the 14 Palestinians were tunnel workers and they were trapped inside a tunnel for four hours after the Egyptian army pumped water in the area.
All the 14 workers were rescued by the Palestinian civil defence services in the Gaza Strip.
Regarding the tunnels, Ridwan said: “If there was no siege on Gaza these workers would not have worked in tunnels. There would have been no tunnels at all.”
Since mid-2013, when the Egyptian army ousted the first freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian army started a fierce war on the tunnels which had been the lifeline for the besieged coastal enclave.
Few Palestinians still strive to get items and food from Egypt through the tunnels however the Egyptian army began pumping seawater into the tunnels and using large digging equipment to damage them.
Ridwan refuted Egyptian claims that the 14 Palestinians were terrorists and they aimed to destabilise the situation in Sinai, stressing that the Palestinians are the most interested party in a stable Egypt.
He said that if the Rafah Crossing is open and there is a free-trade zone between Egypt and Gaza there would not be a need for tunnels or food smuggling.