Egyptian security forces have pumped water into smuggling tunnels and intensified their patrols along the border with Gaza in a bid to crack down on smuggling activity, Palestinian media reported Monday.
Tunnel owners in Rafah told the Safa news agency that over the past 10 days, Egyptian soldiers have set up checkpoints in Sinai, stopped incoming trucks and confiscated merchandise.
The owners said that the Egyptians have dug a well opposite the border with Gaza and installed rubber hoses leading the water overground from the well into the tunnels. They said that when water levels in the tunnel begin to rise, Palestinian workers are immediately evacuated from them for fear of tunnel collapse.
Some tunnel owners have begun employing pumps to empty the water into the Palestinian side of the border.
The tunnels are used to smuggle supplies, and weaponry for use against Israel, into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Last month, Hamas shut the smuggling tunnels for three days following heavy rainfall, fearing for the safety of workers underground. The Islamic movement, which seized control of Gaza since 2007, is currently examining the safety conditions in the tunnels, from which it derives tax revenue.
Egypt began sealing tunnels on its side of the border last year following a terror attack on the border that cost the lives of 16 Egyptian soldiers and reportedly involved some Gaza-based terrorists.