Tags: Egypt | walls | Gaza | tunnels

Egypt Erects Underground Walls Against Gaza

Thursday, 10 December 2009 11:26 AM

Work has begun on Egypt's northern border to dig the foundations for what reports say will be a vast underground metal wall in the latest effort to prevent weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian security officials have said they are digging steel tubes into the ground on their side of the border and are paving a road that will have devices along its route to monitor smuggling.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, which is reportedly involved, has worked with the Egyptians on preventing smuggling along this border for at least two years.

Palestinian smugglers in Gaza have built dozens, perhaps hundreds, of underground tunnels through the sand to bring a wide range of goods into the small territory, from food to fuel to cattle, to skirt Israel's economic blockade.

Armed groups, notably Hamas, also operate more secret tunnels to bring in weapons and these are often targeted by Israeli jets. After Israel's three-week war in Gaza last January the US said it would provide technical and intelligence assistance to Egypt to stop weapons smuggling into the strip.

Egypt's new wall will be about six miles long and "impossible to cut or melt", the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz said. It said construction had already begun and that large slates of steel would eventually be buried into the ground. Joint Egyptian-American patrols had been seen on the Egyptian side of the border, it said.

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Thursday, 10 December 2009 11:26 AM
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