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Vital Gaza Tunnels Flooded by Egyptian Forces

Gazans express concern over Palestinian/Egyptian relations: 'This is the Mursi era'

- Common Dreams staff

Egyptian forces flooded a series of tunnels used to bring goods into the blockaded Gaza Strip through the Egyptian/Gaza border, officials stated Wednesday.

A Palestinian works at the entrance of a tunnel dug beneath the Egyptian-Gaza border in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip November 26, 2012. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem) The tunnels account for an estimated 30 percent of all goods brought into Gaza, such as cement and gravel, due to an over seven-year goods blockade imposed by Israel.

Reports said the tunnels suddenly filled with water on Sunday, forcing workers to flee for safety.

In total the Egyptians deliberately pumped water into three tunnels, surprising Gaza officials who said they expected to have better relations with recently election Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

"Egyptian measures against tunnels have worsened since the election of Mursi. Our Hamas brothers thought he would open up Gaza. I guess they were wrong," said a tunnel owner, who identified himself only as Ayed, fearing reprisal.

"Water can cause cracks in the wall and may cause the collapse of the tunnel. It may kill people," said Ahmed Al-Shaer, a tunnel worker whose cousin died a year ago when a tunnel caved in on him.

Reuters reports:

The move surprised and angered Gaza's rulers, the Islamist group Hamas, which had hoped for much better ties with Cairo following the election last year of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist who is ideologically close to Hamas.

A Hamas official confirmed Egypt was again targeting the tunnels. He gave no further details and declined to speculate on the timing of the move, which started while Palestinian faction leaders met in Cairo to try to overcome deep divisions. [...]

Six Palestinians died in January in tunnel implosions, raising the death toll amongst workers to 233 since 2007, according to Gazan human rights groups, including an estimated 20 who died in various Israeli air attacks on the border lands.