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Egypt resumes demolition of Gaza tunnels

Aug. 23, 2012 4:13 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 24, 2012 4:01 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Egyptian troops resumed the demolition of tunnels under their border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, witnesses and security officials said.

An Egyptian security official told Ma'an the army was using explosives to destroy certain tunnels, after filling them with earth. In recent weeks Egypt has demolished tunnels east of Rafah and is now moving west.

The security source said the Egyptian army was expected to continue its demolition work for a significant period "in order to fight any element of terrorism."

Witnesses told Ma'an that Egyptian military vehicles, accompanied by bulldozers, were operating in the border area.

Prices have risen in Gaza since the first demolition of tunnels earlier this month, as traders had come to depend on the route while under an Israeli blockade.

After gunmen killed 16 Egyptian border guards on Aug. 6, Egypt closed its border with the Gaza Strip and moved to cut off the tunnel network that provides a lifeline to the besieged territory.

Egyptian authorities will re-open the Rafah crossing three days a week starting next week, the director of the pedestrian crossing said on Thursday.

Meanwhile Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar commented on Facebook that Rafah should be open the same amount of time as Egypt's crossing into Israel, Taba.

While Taba is open, allowing 10,000 Israelis to cross from the Sinai, there are more than 40,000 Palestinians who are registered to travel through Rafah but still waiting on the Egyptian side, he said.

Zahar reiterated Hamas' insistence that the attack on Egyptian troops was not related to Gaza, and claimed Israel's intelligence agency Mossad was behind the attack.

No one has claimed responsibility for the deadly assault, but Egypt has launched a crackdown on Islamist militants in the Sinai in its wake.
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