Egypt’s president has admitted its 1 kilometer buffer zone between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza is insufficient to prevent tunnels from Gaza.
Both Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza following its violent takeover by the terrorist organization Hamas. Egypt has previously announced plans to expand its buffer zone to up to 2 kilometers, at the expense of hundreds of home evictions.
The tunnels are large and used for smuggling and terrorist activities, including weapons transfers. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said last month that the army has already discovered examples of tunnels up to 3 kilometers long and 35 meters deep — sufficient for vehicles to travel through.
In January, the Egyptian army announced that it had destroyed 12 such tunnels, but providing no further details. Meanwhile Egypt increased the volume of people and legitimate goods allowed through the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.
At the same time Hamas published a report that it had lost 21 of its members as a result of tunneling activities in 2016 alone. The terrorist organization also uses boats for smuggling and terrorist purposes, despite an Egyptian fence extending out into the Mediterranean Sea.
Sisi also recently promised to compensate Rafah residents who lost their houses as a result of the neighboring buffer zone.
In 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza, sparked by the kidnap and murder of three innocent Israeli youths. Hamas operatives used such terror tunnels and launched rocket attacks from Gaza against the Jewish state.
Israel remains vigilant as to ongoing tunneling and restricts the import of certain building materials into Gaza which have been used for the building of tunnels.