Gaza smuggling tunnel
Photo: Reuters

Hamas fears Gaza fence part of three-way siege

Egypt continues to push forward with underground barrier along Gaza border, aimed at shutting down smuggling tunnels. Gaza sources fear this may be part of plan to topple Hamas while Israel, PA resume peace talks

Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip have admitted that they are concerned over the Egyptian underground barrier under construction along the Gaza-Egypt border.


The fence is expected to reach a depth of 18 meters (59 feet), and span 10 km (about 6 miles), and threatens to strangle the Strip's only lifeline – the smuggling tunnels.


Hamas fears that via this channel, Egypt is joining the Palestinian Authority and Israel in creating a three-way siege on the Strip that would severely hurt the movement.


If the Egyptian plans, which are already in the works, are completed, the Palestinian organizations will have a much more difficult time smuggling weapons, especially with the Israeli navy keeping a close eye on its shores.


The Palestinians are equally concerned with the strain the barrier will put on their ability to smuggle basic living goods into the Strip.


"We are capable of dealing with the Egyptian attempt, but there is no doubt that this fence is not a simple one, and it is very concerning for us," Gaza sources told Ynet.


Egyptian barrier under construction (Photo: AP) 


The tools to which the sources referred are Arab public pressure and Arab mediation attempts, which so far, do not seem to be having an impact on the Egyptian regime.


Lawsuits filed in Egyptian courts by a number of local bodies in hopes of having restraining orders issued against the construction of the fence also failed to hinder construction.


Sources in the Strip told Ynet they fear the fence may be just one part of the puzzle, which includes the renewal of the diplomatic process between Israel and the PA, as well as Israeli threats of military action in the Strip.


The Hamas movement realizes that one of the goals behind the construction of the fence is to make breaching the border more difficult. The organization is also following statements made by IDF officials on the continued armament of Palestinian organizations. Hamas believes the IDF is preparing the ground for military activity.

Smuggling tunnel into Gaza (Photo: AP) 


Anyone looking in on the occurrences both on the Palestinian side and the Egyptian side can see that in order to topple Hamas, joint Palestinian-Israel-Egyptian activity is required. For the first time, such cooperation seems to be underway.


Israel and Egypt are pushing via the blockade, and the Palestinian Authority may be part of a political process through which the international community may turn a blind eye to Israel's forceful defeat of Hamas, in order to restore PA leadership in the Strip.


Ynet has also learned that in the meantime, Egypt continues to boost activity in Egyptian Rafah in hopes of limiting the smugglers' step before they even make it to the Gaza border.


The Egyptian military demonstrates much presence in the area, in hopes of keeping elements that may harm efforts to deal with the smuggling away.


Gaza sources also wonder how much money Egypt received in exchange for damaging its own economy, which rolls in hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the goods smuggled to the Strip.


Prices in Gaza continue to rise by the day following steps taken against the smugglers and tunnel operators, as well as IDF threats to strike the tunnels.


"We are in a period similar to that before war, we are gathering and storing, and at much higher prices," Palestinians in the Strip told Ynet.


פרסום ראשון: 01.11.10, 00:46
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