The Egyptian Army says it has destroyed 31 Gaza supply tunnels in its recent operation in the Sinai Peninsula.
Army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali said on Saturday that 31 tunnels used by Palestinians to transfer food, fuel, medicines, and other basic necessities of life into the Gaza Strip were destroyed.
During the operation, 32 people were killed and dozens more arrested, including foreigners.
He also said that a huge cache of arms and ammunition was seized during the operation.
The tunnel trade is vital to Gaza's economy, which has suffered under a land, air, and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt on the coastal territory imposed in June 2007.
Some 1.5 million residents of Gaza are being denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, the right to a decent standard of living, and proper employment, healthcare, and education.
An interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, director, Pan-African News Wire, from Detroit, to further discuss the issue. erview.
Q: Mr. Azikiwe, this report in, the fact that the Egyptian army says it has destroyed some 30 Gaza supply tunnels in its recent operation in the Sinai Peninsula. Many had expected a different move by the newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. It seems that he’s moving against his so-called pro-Palestinian stance. We’re seeing that the siege on Gaza has become tighter than ever before.
Azikiwe: It’s a very interesting development. We believe that it’s interrelated to some of the foreign policy moves that the Egyptian government has carried out over the last couple of weeks.
The fact that they’re citing problems associated with criminal activity and smuggling through these tunnels is one issue.
But the majority of people from Gaza utilize these tunnels to bring in goods and services that are definitely needed in that area which today is still considered the largest open-air prison in the world.
Most people who utilize the tunnels use them for survival purposes and for commercial purposes and for humanitarian purposes, and not for criminal activity.
I think objectively this will, in fact, intensify the already existent blockade against the people of Gaza.
I think that it’s definitely related to the announcement by the International Monetary Fund that they are going to relieve the government of Egypt of approximately one billion dollars in foreign debt.
Also, the announcement just a few days ago that the government in Qatar was going to extend 18 billion dollars in credit to the newly elected government of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt.
This could, of course, have an impact on how Egyptian foreign policy is going to go forward in the relationship to the state of Israel.
Q: With this new president and, of course, a new Egypt, as many call it, just how much change, how much alteration will we see in Egypt-Israeli-Palestinian ties? How will it all develop in the foreseeable future?
Azikiwe: I believe it’ll have to change otherwise the government now in Egypt is going to lose a lot of support from the majority of people inside of Egypt.
People wanted change, that is why they went out on the streets to bring about not just the removal of Hosni Mubarak and the other top officials in the clerical as well as military apparatus in Egypt, but they want fundamental change in regard to how the economy was structured inside of Egypt, and also in regard to Egypt’s relationship to Israel and Egypt’s support of the Palestinian people.
I think these issues have to be addressed by the new government otherwise they’re going to lose a tremendous amount of support among the working people, the youth and the poor people inside of Egypt who constitute an overwhelming majority of the population.
Source: Islam Times