Egyptian soldiers in Rafah, Gaza
Egyptian soldiers in Rafah, GazaAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Egyptian border guards claimed on Sunday to have uncovered a 2.8 km-long tunnel under the yards of three homes in Rafah, near the Gaza border.

Egyptian military sources told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency that the tunnel was three meters underground and was being used to smuggle people, ammunition, weapons and goods.

The sources further said it was the longest tunnel uncovered between Egypt and the Gaza Strip since the start of operations near the border to crack down on smuggling.

Earlier this month, the Egyptian army said it had demolished over 1,000 houses in Rafah as part of the second stage of the establishment of a buffer zone along the border.

After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October 2014, the military stepped up the campaign to build the buffer zone as it accused Hamas of supporting the group that carried out the attack, which Hamas has strenuously denied.

The buffer zone was initially planned to be 500 meters wide, but Egypt later decided to expand it by another 500 meters.

The ongoing tensions between the Egyptian government and Hamas deepened further last month when an Egyptian court declared Hamas’s “military wing” a terrorist group.

Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk said that the Egyptian ruling against the Al-Qassam Brigades “is a coup against the history, ethics of Egypt and its principles.”