The Egyptian army started flooding tunnels between blockaded Gaza strip and the Sinai Peninsula on Friday using water from the Mediterranean Sea, Palestinian sources told Anadolu Agency.
Subject to an airtight blockade by both Israel and Egypt since 2007, the Gaza Strip – home to some 1.9 million people – has come to rely on the border tunnels for the import of food, fuel and medicine.
“The Egyptian army started at 1:00 o’clock local time (23:00 GMT) pumping water from the Mediterranean Sea using huge pipes,” Abo Mohamed, a tunnel owner, told Anadolu Agency.
Abo Mohamed, who refused to divulge his full name, added that Palestinian tunnels’ owners attempted to save dozens of tunnels from collapsing using water suction pumps, but the pumps were not able to handle the large amount of water being pumped.
Claiming that the tunnels are being used for militant activities, Egypt’s military laid enormous pipes to flood tunnels with water after pumping water from the Mediterranean into reservoirs.
The mechanism will result in inundating the tunnels with water without having to find their exact location, an anonymous Palestinian source told Anadolu Agency.
Since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a 2013 military coup, Egyptian authorities have ratcheted up their crackdown on Gaza’s cross-border tunnel system, which, Egypt claims, is being used to support militant activity in the Sinai Peninsula.
Last year, Egyptian authorities set up a “buffer zone” in the North Sinai city of Rafah following a spate of attacks on army and security forces.
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