Hamas Scales Back Hopes of Open Egypt Border

(AP) Karin Laub - Despite an Egyptian security clampdown, smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border keep operating under the supervision of Gaza's Hamas rulers. Since the Sinai attack, Egypt has closed dozens of tunnel openings. One Gaza smuggler said he was told by his partners in Egypt that far fewer smuggled goods are now reaching the border because of a heavy troop presence in Sinai. Yet on a recent afternoon last week, trucks loaded with cement and gravel from Egypt stopped at a Hamas-run gate, paid their fees and headed into the border town of Rafah. Underground travel between Gaza and Sinai is also continuing. One Gaza man said sneaking under the border is "as easy as crossing the street." Travelers are vetted by Hamas security, walk for about five minutes through a short tunnel and pay $25 in fees, he said. Yet since the Egyptian clampdown, only one of several passenger tunnels is operating, said a Gaza fish importer and frequent traveler. Returning to Gaza last week, he was interrogated by Hamas security and had to pay $300 in bribes to Egyptian officers, triple the usual amount.

2012-08-30 00:00:00

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