Hamas reacts to Egypt blocking tunnels

Palestine's Hamas calls on Egypt to stop flooding border between Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Palestinian children play in flooded tunnels which destroyed by Egyptian Army

Hamas demanded the Egyptian Army to stop destroying underground tunnels linking Egypt to neighbouring Gaza which are used to transfer goods into Gaza that are necessary for survival for the residents of the blockaded coastal enclave.

Hamas is a political party based Palestine's Gaza strip, known for the Palestinian resistance ideology against the illegal Israeli occupaption of the Palestinian lands.

Last week, the Egyptian military began pumping sea water through the pre-existing tunnels to create fish farms and to shutdown the last remaining cross-border tunnels linking Egypt to neighbouring Palestine, security officials and witnesses told reporters on Friday.

The tunnels between Sinai and Gaza are considered the last remaining breather and way out for Gazans struggling to get by under the blockade forced on them by Israel and Palestine.

“We are holding official contacts with Cairo to halt this move,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement. He said that the development is threating the purity of underground water and houses on the Palestinian side.

“We hope that [Egypt] would accept our request to halt these rejected measures,” Abu Zuhri added.

The Egyptian Army has destroyed 69 tunnels along the border with Gaza since March 28, putting the total number of tunnels destroyed there since February at 285. A total of 1,400 tunnels have been destroyed since the beginning of 2014.

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza has only been open for a limited amount of time, never enough thus hurting the 1.8 million Palestinians living in the crowded 360 square kilometer enclave.

The Egyptian government accuses Hamas of supporting armed insurgencies in the Sinai peninsula, something that Hamas repeatedly denied and reiterated that harming internal Egyptian affairs is never the intention. 

There are only an estimated 20 tunnels still actively being used along the border, providing Gazans who suffer from 43 percent unemployment and a 39 percent poverty rate with their only means of livelihood.

Previously, plans to dig a small canal were abandoned after thorough examination showed that the water would eventually flood the border completely, according to statements from officials.

Several smugglers told the Associated Press news agency that they are now installing water pumps with 200-meter-long hoses to extract the water out of the tunnels in case of flooding.

Hamas-appointed Rafah mayor Subhi Radwan previously warned that if the Egyptians fill the wells with seawater this could damage the aquifer providing Gaza with its drinking water, an accusation which Egyptian military officials have dismissed.

Radwan also added that the fisheries could cause homes located on the Gazan side of the border to collapse.

Gaza uninhabitable in five years

UN report released September 2nd says Gaza could be rendered "uninhabitable" in less than five years if its current economic slump and constant destruction continue.

The eight-year-long economic blockade on Gaza has cost its economy dearly, in addition to the three conflicts between the Israeli army and Hamas spanning the course of only six years.

Gaza's GDP dropped 15 percent last year and unemployment reached a record high of 44 percent. Seventy-two percent of households in the territory are food insecure.

Last year's Israeli offensive in Gaza caused many casualties in the coastal enclave. The 2014 conflict displaced half a million people and left considerable areas there completely destroyed.

In Gaza, more than 20,000 houses were destroyed, along with 148 schools, 15 hospitals and 45 medical centers in the offensive. In addition, 247 factories and 300 malls were totally or partially damaged and damage to power plants has led to major power shortages throughout the Strip.

TRTWorld and agencies