Palestinian men transport bags of cement through tunnels used for smuggling goods, including food, fuel, and building materials, along the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 23, 2012.
The Egyptian Army says it has destroyed 31 Gaza supply tunnels in its recent operation in the Sinai Peninsula.
Army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali told a news conference in Cairo on Saturday that 31 tunnels used to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip were destroyed, Reuters reported.
The tunnels were used by Palestinians to transfer food, fuel, medicines, and other basic necessities of life into the besieged Gaza Strip.
During the operation, 32 people were killed and dozens more arrested, including foreigners, Colonel Ali added.
He also said that a huge cache of arms and ammunition was also seized during the operation.
“Egypt is coordinating with the Israeli side over the presence of Egyptian armed forces in Sinai. They know this,” the Egyptian Army official noted.
The tunnel trade is vital to Gaza's economy, which has suffered under a land, air, and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt on the coastal territory imposed in June 2007.
Some 1.5 million residents of Gaza are being denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, the right to a decent standard of living, and proper employment, healthcare, and education.
Although the Israeli military officially withdrew from Gaza in 2005, they still frequently bomb the tunnel network, saying Palestinian resistance fighters use the tunnels for storing and smuggling weapons.
But the Palestinians dismiss the allegations, arguing they have resorted to the underground tunnels to bring basic needs to the impoverished Gazans because the territory has been sealed by the blockade.
source here | Sept 8, 2012 >>>