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      'Egyptian Wall Won't Stop Smuggling'

      Egypt is building an underground iron wall to stop smuggling into Gaza. Analyst says everyone but Israel will benefit - including the smugglers.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 12/9/2009, 11:47 AM / Last Update: 12/9/2009, 12:00 PM

      Egypt is building an underground iron wall to stop smuggling into Gaza. One commentator says everyone, except Israel, will benefit - especially the smugglers.

      Egypt has begun building a massive wall made of steel plates along its border with Gaza, in a bid to block smuggling tunnels, Haaretz reports. The wall will be 9-10 kilometers long, will reach 20-30 meters into the ground, and will be impossible to cut or melt, according to Egyptian sources.

      However, many reports say the tunnels are actually dug deeper than 20 meters – and some say even deeper than 30. A report in PalestineFreeVoice last year reported on a tunnel dug “35 meters underneath the border in Rafiah.” Other reports say the tunnels are often 80 feet (25 meters) under ground.

      Commentator Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA (Independent Media Review and Analysis) writes that the fact that Egypt has embarked on a major project that will not totally work is proof that “third-party activity against illegal activity is a farce.” It has long been claimed that the post-Disengagement agreement leaving Egypt, and not Israel, in charge of the Rafiah border crossings is detrimental to Israeli interests.

      “So who benefits from the steel wall project?” Lerner asks, and answers as follows: “1. The contractors who build the wall. 2. The officials who get bribes from the contractors for giving them the work. 3. The workers employed building the wall. 4. The smugglers - who can continue smuggling. 5. The Egyptian Government - because it can claim it is doing something really serious this time to stop the smuggling instead of carrying out activities that close down a few tunnels at a time but don't actually put a dent in the smuggling (wink wink). 6. The U.S. - because it can tell Israel to stop complaining about the smuggling because they are spending a fortune on the wall… Conclusion:  The smuggling will continue.”

      The actual number of smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza is unknown, but it estimated to be well over 100. Arms, weapons, cars, people and various goods are smuggled into Gaza via the underground routes. The Rafiah municipality provides electricity and water to licensed operators, and Hamas taxes the smuggled goods.