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Egypt shuts Gaza border crossing ‘until further notice’

Hamas officials say that nearly 130 smuggling tunnels have been closed in recent months as well

An Egyptian army watchtower on the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip, July 2013. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
An Egyptian army watchtower on the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip, July 2013. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Egyptian army shut the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials said Saturday. The crossing had been temporarily opened for two days in order to allow the exit of sick Palestinians and foreign citizens, after it was closed a week and a half ago due to security threats in the Sinai peninsula.

“Egyptian authorities notified us that they are closing the Rafah crossing again until further notice,” Hamas crossing coordinator Maher Abu Sabha said, AFP reported.

According to Hamas officials, nearly 130 smuggling tunnels have been shut down by the Egyptian Army in the past few months as well. The officials added that the damage to Gaza’s economy as a result of the tunnels’ closing is estimated at around a quarter of a billion dollars.

The Egyptian crackdown on Gaza’s smuggling tunnels intensified sharply following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, an ally of the Hamas regime in Gaza, on July 3. According to some estimates, up to 90 percent of Gaza’s once-thriving smuggling industry has been destroyed by the Egyptian army.

Elhanan Miller contributed to this report

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