(Photographed by AFP )
The military has begun to destroy the tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border to stop infiltrators and smuggling, security sources said early Thursday.
The sources said the work started with tunnels far from the border town of Rafah, most of which are now shut down. The crackdown is part of the military response to a militant attack on the Egypt-Israeli border Sunday, spurring violence that has continued throughout the week in Sinai.
Locals said there are about 1,200 tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Some of these underground corridors have been developed recently for vehicles that run on tracks and are pulled by machinery including cranes.
The tunnels also have ventilation openings and communication devices to link people inside to the outside, facilitating the transfer of goods to Gaza.
The tunnels belong to families and individuals on both sides of the border. These people depend on them as a source of income, despite cooperation between Rafah residents and security forces in combating this phenomenon.
The tunnel-clearing operation comes at the same time the military and police are attacking armed militias in Sinai with the aid of Apache helicopters.
This campaign continued for the second consecutive day on Wednesday night in Sheikh Zuwayed and Rafah, both of which are south of the North Sinai capital Arish.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm