Egypt steps up efforts to stop smuggling to Gaza: reports
Egypt beefed up security measures along its border with the Gaza Strip to combat smuggling to the Israeli-blockaded territory, Palestinian media reported on Wednesday.
Palestinian residents in Rafah town said they saw Egyptian soldiers deploying along the other side of the border wall. Armored personnel carriers backed the troops and monitoring points were set up on roofs, Palestinian newspapers reported.
Over the past couple of days, the Egyptian forces conducted search-and-destroy operations, targeting the ends of the tunnels that spread beneath the border between Gaza and Egypt, the witnesses said, Xinhua reported.
Though the Egyptian efforts to stop smuggling of goods into Gaza began after Israel ended a three-week offensive in the territory in January, the smuggling increased in recent days, disclosed contraband workers.
The Egyptian procedures and the frequent Israeli air bombings against the tunnels decreased the flow of goods into Gaza which has been under an Israeli siege since two years ago.
Israel sealed off the Gaza Strip in a bid to weaken the Islamic Hamas movement which has been holding sway in Gaza after routing security forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
The Hamas administration licensed the tunnels to overcome the Israeli blockade. Various kinds of goods, fuel and electronics enter Gaza via the tunnels.