Egypt's Gaza Smugglers Shrug Off Reports of Border Barrier

(Telegraph-UK) Samer al-Atrush - Tunnel operator Abu Khaled shrugged off reports that the authorities were constructing an underground barrier to sever the tunnels into Gaza. "It shouldn't pose a problem," he said. The smugglers have long been accustomed to outwitting frontier guards. "They're taking American money and dumping it into the ground," said a smuggler named Mohammed. "There's a whole cocktail of reasons why it won't work," said Abu Ahmed, a Bedouin arms trader. The police are corrupt, he says, the Bedouin and other smugglers are resourceful, and if Egypt cuts the underground lifeline to Gaza, people there may inundate Sinai as they did briefly in 2008 after Hamas blasted the border wall. "They used to want weapons. Now they have all the light arms they need, although Hamas is interested if you have something bigger. What they want is food and fuel," Abu Ahmed said. A senior Egyptian security official said: "If you want to write that we are building an underground barrier, I won't stop you. It looks good for us. It looks like we're doing something."

2009-12-17 08:59:54

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