Egypt has launched a new campaign with the aim of creating a “buffer zone” between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula, a Palestinian news agency reported.
The independent agency Ma’an cited an unnamed Egyptian security official to the effect that his country’s military had destroyed 10 tunnels and seven homes in Rafah, along the border, on Saturday.
The official said that the houses were used to conceal the tunnels and that they were blown up after the tunnels were destroyed.
Saturday’s activities were part of a larger move to establish a 300- to 500-meter-wide buffer zone in Rafah, he was quoted as saying.
In January, The Times of Israel learned that Israel has been quietly cooperating with the Egyptian government against Hamas in Gaza, allowing Cairo to dispatch military forces beyond the provisions of the Camp David peace accords.
Egypt is primarily concerned with eradicating local jihadist cells in the el-Arish area, but believes that Hamas across the border has provided Egyptian radicals logistical aid and training.
It has therefore been engaged in systematically destroying smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, which it considers a significant conduit of illegal arms.
The tunnels have also been an invaluable source of revenue for Hamas, which has taxed all manner of goods that arrived through them into the blockaded Strip.
Four Egyptian security officials told Reuters in January that Hamas was Egypt’s next target after quashing the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt has in fact begun supporting subversive activities against the Hamas regime, the news agency reported.
In response, a Hamas spokesman said Egypt was “delusional” if it believed it could crush his organization in Gaza.