An Egyptian security source told MENA news that Egyptian military engineers have blocked 120 tunnels used for smuggling to and from the Gaza Strip since the start of operations in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula, security officials said on Saturday.
"Tunnel entrances are being demolished every day and the operation will continue until all underground passageways are shut," one official said.
Although the tunnels were important for both the Egyptians and the Palestinians within the last couple of years, keeping the tunnels open would threaten Egyptian national security. Thus, work in tunnels must be stopped and the tunnels destroyed, the source said, adding that most of the tunnels lie in a four-kilometer stretch of the border, Alresalah news reported.
According to a Nile TV correspondent, the army was using explosives to destroy certain tunnels, after filling them with earth. In recent weeks, Egypt has demolished tunnels east of Rafah, and is now moving west as the Egyptian army is expected to continue its demolition work for a significant period in order to fight any element of terrorism.
On the other hand, Mohammed Mahboub, minister of the Egyptian People's Assembly, said that a free-trade zone will be established on the Gaza Strip-Egyptian borders by the beginning of 2013, as the free-trade zone is the people's demand.
On the security level, Egyptian forces seized four masked men attempting to sneak through the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip on motorcycles early Friday, a security official said.
Four others escaped, and those captured were found to be unarmed, the Egyptian official added.
Meanwhile, Egyptian and Israeli security officials held more than six meetings over the period of three consecutive days, an Egyptian military source said.
"The ongoing negotiations between Tel Aviv and Cairo led to an understanding regarding the deployment of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula," an Egyptian military source told the Al-Ahram newspaper.
Furthermore, the Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat reported Friday that Egypt's defense minister, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, reassured Israeli defense minister in a telephone conversation on Wednesday that Egypt was fully committed to the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt
According to the report, the two reportedly reached understandings over the highly contentious issue of Egyptian military deployment in the Sinai Peninsula.
Meanwhile, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that U.S. Secretary of State spoke by telephone to Egyptian foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and asked him to keep open communication with Israel, amid tensions over Cairo’s deployment of extra forces to the Sinai Peninsula.
It is worth mentioning that Egyptian war jets are surveillance flights over Sinai in an attempt to uncover armed groups operating there.
For more details regarding the free trade zone between Egypt and the Gaza Strip please check this report.http://english.nuqudy.com/North_Africa/I