Egypt has destroyed hundreds of Palestinian tunnels across its border with the Gaza Strip as part of the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the enclave.
Egyptian authorities on Sunday announced that they have destroyed some 400 tunnels since the beginning of 2010 to counter what it alleges to be smuggling of goods and weapons, Ma’an news agency reported.
This is while years of a crippling Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip has left its impoverished people with a network of cross-border underground tunnels as the last resort to push their basic needs into the territory.
Egypt conducts regular raids on what the Gazans see as "supply routes," and at times fills them with gas or water while it has erected a deep-based steel wall at the Rafah border to disrupt the excavation of such burrows.
Earlier this month, nine tunnels on the border with Gaza were attacked by Egyptian forces and a Palestinian was captured along with quantities of unspecified goods bound for the besieged territory.
Egypt has refused to open its Rafah border crossing — the only terminal not controlled by Israel — to the Palestinians in the Hamas-run region.
On May 31, a Gaza-bound aid convoy came under attack in international waters by Israeli soldiers, who killed nine activists on the blockade-busting Freedom Flotilla and injured scores more.
The deadly onslaught drew fresh, reinvigorated condemnations against the Gaza siege and the collective punishment of some 1.5 million Palestinians living in the populated coastal sliver.
In the wake of mounting criticism, Cairo decided to indefinitely open the Rafah crossing but only to sick people, students and those who are granted permits by the Egyptian security agency.
Israel said in June that Cairo had encouraged its blockade of Gaza, seeking to force the territory’s impoverished population to rise up against the democratically elected Hamas government in the territory — a claim Cairo vehemently rejected.