Egyptian officials have confirmed that they have begun a new campaign to crack down on goods shipments into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels, flooding several of the tunnels by pumping water into them.
Reporters saw one major tunnel, being used to ship cement into the tiny besieged enclave, flooded seemingly out of nowhere, forcing workers to scramble out leaving their goods behind. Israel has banned shipments of cement to the strip, claiming it could conceivably used to build bunkers.
Egypt’s Mubarak regime long cooperated with the Israeli blockade, but President Morsi had indicated an interest in opening the strip to more humanitarian aid. It does not appear that this will include cement, however.
The tunnels are estimated to prove some 30 percent of all of the goods available in the strip, with everything from construction material to clothes, toys and even cattle and vehicles find their way across the heavily guarded border by way of the tunnels.
The Mubarak regime regularly destroyed tunnels with the use of toxic gas, sometimes killing workers trapped inside. The moves were hugely unpopular domestically, and it remains to be seen if the Morsi government will be able to maintain a similar crackdown ahead of an election.
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