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Egyptian army destroys more smuggling tunnels, underscoring rift with Hamas

The Egyptian army has launched another campaign to destroy the roughly thousand of smuggling tunnels that link the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Authorities are claiming limited but significant success:

The head of engineering for the Egyptian Armed Forces, Major General Tahir Abdullah, announced today that authorities had successfully demolished 154 of 276 tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. At least 137 tunnels were destroyed twice, Abudallah said, as smuggling operations had resumed within them after they were first targeted. Abdullah stressed that authorities are working nonstop to close the tunnels. According to Ma’an News Agency, the 276 tunnels were “previously unknown.”

This is at least the second time that Egyptian security forces have launched a broad campaign aimed at destroying smuggling tunnels. Egypt blames the tunnels – and the Hamas officials who control the Gaza Strip – for facilitating terror attacks on Egyptian terrority.

Egyptian security officials have been increasingly explicit in linking the Iran-backed terror group to violence on Egyptian soil, even at the expense of creating tension with the country’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed government. Recent days have even seen leaks to the effect that Hamas contributed to violence surrounding Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring.

On Sunday Egyptian authorities denied two Hamas officials entry into the country. Arabic media ascribed the denial to Egyptian “intelligence officers.”

[Photo: Egyptian security authorities via The Long War Journal]