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Smuggling in Gaza tunnels (archive)
Photo: AP
Gaza smugglers breach Egyptian barrier
Egyptian security official says underground steel wall built to prevent smuggling via Gaza Strip border breached hundreds of times; AP footage shows Palestinian cutting through barrier with blow torch. Smugglers say wall was never a serious obstacle

Useless obstacle? An Egyptian security official says an underground steel wall built by Egypt to stop smuggling under its border with Gaza has been breached hundreds of times.

 

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

 

On Thursday, footage filmed by Associated Press Television News showed one smuggler cutting through the barrier with a blow torch.

 

Smugglers say the wall was never a serious obstacle and that they are more concerned about consumer goods coming in through legitimate crossings now that Israel has eased the Gaza closure.

 

'Technical difficulties'

Hundreds of tunnels run under the border. They are used to import goods as well as weapons for Hamas.

 

Last year, Egypt started building the wall to stop smuggling.

 

Earlier this year, an Egyptian newspaper reported that work on the barrier constructed between Gaza and Sinai has been halted in some places due to technical difficulties.

 

Al-Masry Al-Youm said workers involved in the construction of the steel barrier confirmed the report, and said the border area's geological characteristics were hindering the work. The workers told the paper that boulders in the ground had made it impossible to drill deeper than four meters into the ground at some spots, therefore preventing the construction teams from laying down steel plates.

 

The wall was originally designed to curb the rampant smuggling via the border.

 

Roee Nahmias contributed to the report.

 

 

 

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