Egypt finds Gaza smuggling tunnels big enough for trucks

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Egyptian security forces have discovered smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza to Sinai that are large enough to drive trucks through.

Egyptian officials believe the tunnels are the source of weapons being used in Sinai by the affiliate of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). Most of the weapons were smuggled into Gaza either by the Iranians or from Libya.

Gaza-Sinai smuggling tunnel. /Reuters
Gaza-Sinai smuggling tunnel. /Reuters

These massive tunnels, some of which stretch for over 3 kilometers (about 2 miles), are designed go under the security zone Egypt set up at the Gaza-Sinai border. The security zone – which ranges between half a kilometer and a kilometer in length on the Egyptian side – has been cleared out of any buildings or people.

Egypt routinely destroys smuggling tunnels and also floods the shafts of tunnels which are used not only to transfer weapons but fighters, building materials and other items covered by the economic siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, Egyptian officials said.

Among a cache of weapons recently found by Egyptian security forces were solar water heaters filled with explosive materials, which are one of the deadliest weapons ISIL in Sinai uses against the Egyptian military. The solar water heaters are used as IEDs with the ability to take out a tank.

The Egyptian government also said that Sinai Province, ISIL’s affiliate in Egypt, fires Hamas-made rockets at Egyptian military bases in the peninsula.

Israeli security officials said they were not aware of any tunnels as large as those in Gaza-Sinai crossing into Israel.

Israeli officials said recent tunnel collapses in Gaza were due to the increased difficulty in obtaining wood and cement to structurally support the tunnels. To replace these materials, Hamas is using fiberglass, which is also illegal to import into the Strip. Hamas still tries to smuggle it in, even though the material can’t support the same amount of weight as cement, and collapses.