TEL AVIV – Amid signs of a rapprochement between Egypt and Hamas, Egyptian media personalities are calling for the Gaza-based terror group to destroy cross-border tunnels used to smuggle arms, terrorists and funds in and out of Egypt.
Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm published several articles cited by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) that say an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between warring Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, as well as an accord between the Islamist group and Egypt itself, must be on condition of Hamas’ cooperation in shutting down tunnels that threaten Egypt’s security.
Egyptian writer and historian Abbas Al-Tarabili slammed his government for being endlessly “patient with the Palestinian brothers who stab us [in the back].”
“Every day we awaken to discover a new tunnel that brings death to our people and state,” he added.
According to Al-Tarabili, many of the tunnels are dug with the purpose of smuggling weapons to the Gaza Strip or for people-smuggling to “train Sinai rebels.” Even the ones that do not pose a security threat to Egypt pose a menace in other ways, he said. Narcotics and other contraband are smuggled into Egypt from Gaza and vice versa, while subsidized food products from Egypt are sold at a profit in Palestinian Rafah for Israeli shekels. Al-Tarabili dismissed outright Hamas’ claims that the tunnels are being used for humanitarian purposes such as the transport of medical supplies into the Strip.
According to Al-Masri Al-Yawm’s owner, Salah Al-Diab, Hamas earns upwards of $20,000 per day from goods smuggled via the tunnels.
“Hamas invented the tunnels and used them to benefit itself, not the Palestinian people of Gaza,” Al-Diab wrote.
Al-Tarabili concluded that until Hamas is able to prevent the ongoing construction of its underground tunnel network, “Egypt should officially announce that it is halting all attempts to reconcile” between the Palestinian factions.
On Sunday night, a member of Hamas was killed during a tunnel collapse, a statement by the terror group said. It did not mention, however, whether the tunnel led into Israel or Egypt.
In February, three Hamas militants were killed during repairs to a smuggling tunnel. Hamas blamed Egypt for flooding the tunnels and using dynamite to destroy them, saying the country was responsible for the “oppressive siege” of Gaza.