According to the media at the time:
- Egypt forced Hamas to close Gaza tunnels that lead into Egypt. Since Gaza tunnels are used not only for smuggling weapons but also goods and fuel, such a closure is a threat to the economy.
- Egypt then started destroying the Gaza tunnels. The Egyptian military is supervising the destruction of the tunnels using state owned heavy machinery.
- Egypt demanded that Hamas hand over 3 of its senior members. The three senior members belong to Hamas’s armed wing Izz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and are suspected of being involved in the terrorist attack near the Kerem Shalom border crossing--one of them, Raed Attar, is the commander of the Qassam brigades in Gaza and was involved in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in June 2006.
But just like in the Sinai, in Gaza too, the actions taken by Egypt appear to be mostly smoke and mirrors.
According to Now Lebanon, Egypt has not been destroying tunnels in Gaza as claimed:
President Morsi closed the Rafah border crossing and vowed to destroy the hundreds of tunnels that link Egypt and Gaza. But Rafah as well has not seen any military offensive.One gets the distinct impression that Morsi is not overly concerned--neither will the alleged threat of terrorists from Gaza nor with the need to take action against those terrorists in order to assuage the anger of the Egyptian people over the original terrorist attack.
“No tunnels were destroyed here,” says Mohamed, a tunnel owner who refuses to provide his family name. He and other tunnel owners lounge on a side street in the shadow of a house. Given the situation, they stopped their work for a while. But they are not too concerned. “We will wait until the storm blows over,” he says and leisurely draws a little picture in the sand. “And in two or three weeks, we will continue our work.”
There are an estimated 600 to 1,000 tunnels in the border area. Because of the frequent closures of the border, they are essential for Gaza’s economy. “Look,” says one of the smugglers, making three marks in the sand and drawing lines between them. “There are so many tunnels here, you find them every couple of meters.”
One of the men gets up and walks down one hundred meters between some buildings. Two big, easy visible holes lead underground. Ropes and canisters lie in front of them. “One is for cement and one is for fuel,” he says with a boyish smile. “The police and the military know where they are,” says Mohamed. “But they never really did anything about it.” [emphasis added]
What Morsi did get out of the attack, besides the excuse to remove key military leaders and retire them, is extra troops that are now in the Sinai, doing nothing but fully armed and symbolizing Egyptian sovereignty over the area, not far from the Israeli border.
Meanwhile, the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is now opened in both directions, and if anything--the lesson from last week's terrorist attack apparently needs to be learned not by Egypt but by the West, and Israel.
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