Gaza Arms Smuggling Resumes

Ad Feedback - GAZA STRIP - Despite the IAF's (Israel Air Force) destruction of some 80 percent of the arms smuggling tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, the remaining tunnels are active again.

Israeli security officials warned that the damaged tunnels would be reconstructed relatively quickly.

According to a report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, the IAF did not use bunker-busting bombs to destroy the tunnels, which allowed some of the reinforced tunnels to survive the air strikes.

Along with Palestinians in Gaza, Bedouins from the Egyptian Sinai, involved in the lucrative smuggling trade, are rarely hindered by Egyptian police, Haaretz reports.

Video footage released by The Associated Press, aired on Israel's Channel 2, showed a fuel truck being filled with gas transported through a nearby tunnel. The footage also showed tractors working to repair damaged tunnels.

"The tunnels along the Philadelphi route are Hamas's central smuggling pipeline, and it is clear they will not give them up," one Israeli security official said.

IDF (Israel Defense Forces) officials said the Palestinians and Bedouins, who are making a good living from smuggling, will reconstruct the damaged tunnels and build new ones.

The US, Egypt and several European countries signed an agreement pledging to help thwart arms smuggling, but there are no guarantees.

"This is one of the most important issues vis-à-vis the strengthening of Hamas," the security official said. 

"There is no doubt that Hamas, whose arsenal has been significantly depleted, will try to replenish it, with Iran's help, not only for military purposes, but also to boost morale by showing that the rebuilding process is progressing at a fast pace," he said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with 27 European foreign ministers in Brussels Wednesday to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Sources: YNet news, Haaretz

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