Over the course of 2017, the Egyptian army has destroyed 63 cross-border tunnels linking the blockaded Gaza Strip to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the army announced Friday.
In a statement, the army also said that more than 6,000 illegal immigrants — of various nationalities — had been detained over the same period.
Due to a decade-long blockade by Israel and Egypt, the Gaza Strip’s roughly 2 million inhabitants have come to rely on a sophisticated network of cross-border tunnels to import basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
Following Egypt’s 2013 military coup — which saw the country’s first freely-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, ousted and imprisoned — the Egyptian authorities began cracking down on Gaza’s cross-border tunnel network.
Cairo has attempted to justify the crackdown by pointing to an ongoing militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, which erupted following the 2013 coup.