A state-owned daily confirmed on Thursday for the first time that Egypt is building an underground barrier with Gaza Strip and said it was a "sovereign right". "The barrier... is the same barrier that currently exists but with the addition of underground foundations," Al-Gomhuria newspaper said in a front-page editorial.
"Egypt, which protects its sovereignty, has the right to develop the barrier separating it and Gaza. It has a right to have a wall that is strong and not subject to collapse."
The underground barrier is meant to stem smuggling into the Strip through underground tunnels. "Some people have tried to portray Egypt as playing a part in the blockade of Palestinians by tightening the openings used for smuggling weapons... but smuggling weapons through Sinai is a direct attack on the sovereignty of Egypt," Al-Gomhuria said. It blamed Hamas movement for the worsening living conditions in the Palestinian territory, saying it should have signed an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal with the Fatah. "It is up to Hamas to agree on signing a reconciliation agreement which would guarantee a permanent opening of the borders including the Rafah border," between Egypt and Gaza, the paper said.
"It is Hamas that stood against reconciliation. Now it must show more positive action if it wants to lighten the blockade and suffering of its people."