Egypt Seizes Explosives Meant for Sinai Smugglers
Egyptian authorities seized a ton of explosives destined for smugglers in the Sinai on Saturday, local police told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency.
The explosives were earmarked for the destruction of rocky mountains to facilitate building smuggling tunnels into Gaza, police said.
The explosives were found hidden in cartons in the boot of a car from Cairo heading to the Ahmad Hamadi tunnel, which was stopped by police for inspection, according to Ma’an.
The driver told police he had intended to transfer the explosives to smugglers in Sinai. The driver was detained, police said.
In February, Egypt began a crackdown on Gaza's underground tunnel system, pumping sewage into the tunnels it identified.
The flooding of the tunnels is part of Egypt’s ongoing effort to maintain the ceasefire that was agreed upon between Israel and Hamas following the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.
The Hamas government in Gaza said last week it was willing to close down all smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border once a commercial crossing opens. At present, one can enter Gaza from Egypt only through the highly-monitored Rafiah crossing. Egypt has built a high wall along the entire border except for that single entrance.
"We do not want the tunnels in the first place," said Ghazi Hamad, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to Ma’an. "They burden citizens and cause hundreds of fatalities, but they are essential because there is no alternative."
He added, "The tunnels issue can be resolved by finding a solution that balances the security needs of Egypt and the humanitarian needs of the Gaza Strip through lawful commercial transactions monitored by both.”
The tunnel industry has enabled the smuggling of goods into Gaza, ranging from luxury cars to building materials and fast food. Gaza’s Hamas-terrorist rulers have also used the tunnels to smuggle weapons and terrorists from the chaotic Sinai Peninsula into Gaza.
Terrorists have taken advantage of the lawlessness in the Sinai since the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to smuggle rockets, missiles and other arms into Gaza. Some of these arms come from Libya, where there is also lawlessness in the wake of the civil war which toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
A senior IDF officer recently revealed that Hamas is making at least a million dollars a day in “tax” money from Gaza smugglers.
Colonel Wael Tafesh, who is a top IDF officer in the IDF's coordination unit with the Palestinian Authority, said that Hamas provided “protection” to smugglers and collected payments for the service, and often used the smugglers to order goods for their own use.