Egypt’s destruction of Gaza tunnels leading to economic and environmental disaster

Israel/Palestine
on 28 Comments

Egypt maintains tight border restrictions which hampers the stream of goods that should come in to meet the needs for Gaza’s population. In response, Gazans tried to extricate themselves from these deteriorating economic conditions by digging the tunnels which came to be known as the “sole remaining life artery” to reconnect the Gaza Strip with the world. However, two months ago, Egyptian authorities started a devastating process that aims to destroy these tunnels by flooding them with sea water, raising grave concerns among the local Rafah citizens in the southern Gaza Strip.

Ahmed, who does not want to reveal his full name, said that the Egyptian project endangers his family’s house which is very nearby to the tunnels. “The tunnels are constructed under our houses, and beside them, this is why it is going to be very perilous to the status of our homes, which we feel them shaken as a result of the destruction made by the Egyptian bulldozers on the Egyptian side of the borders”.

Palestinian officials also voiced their rejection to the recent Egyptian step calling it “destructive and unprecedented”.

Sobhi Redwan, Rafah’s mayor, confirmed that the project will have very sever implications on the environment in the Palestinian southern city. “It will definitely jeopardize the construction and aquatic future of Rafah, and it will decrease our water supplies”.

Environmental experts have warned that the long-term effect of flooding water on the Palestinian borders will hamper the work of underground water pipes. Moreover, it will contaminate the pure water stored in these pipes when the salty seawater pumped in by Egypt leaks into it.

Adding Insult to Injury

In recent years Gaza’s unemployment rate has recorded a very troubling increase as more university students graduate every year with bleak prospect for chances of landing a job.

Many of them have decided to work in the “tunnels industry” to support themselves and their families despite very dangerous work conditions, and more importantly, without any insurance. Some tunnel workers have lost their lives during digging and smuggling, but their families have not received any kind of compensation for the death of their sons.

The Gaza government estimates that more than 160 people have died in the tunnels between 2007-2012.

Adham Okbi used to work in the tunnels for years. “I found no other alternative but to work in the tunnels. I was able to pay for my university tuition, and provide a kind of financial support for my poor family which consists of nine,” Adham said.

The 24-year-old youth was very angry with the Egyptian decision to completely destroy the network of tunnels which provide some work opportunities for Palestinians, especially youth inside the besieged strip.

“They are waging a tireless war on our livelihoods. I wonder what harms them when the Palestinian citizen in Gaza is able to feed his family by what he earns in meager wages from the tunnels’ work,” Adham complained. “Is this an urgent matter of national security?”

Abu Mazen, 40, was able to recruit dozens of young people in the tunnels’ network. “I lost my job, and instead of earning money for my family, I spend my time gossiping with my neighbors at the doorstep of my home,” Abu Mazen said. The new situation has placed him and his family in serious financial peril. Two of his daughters are not able to get their higher education after graduating from the high school.

Grave Economic Impact

The Egyptian destruction of 80% of the tunnels has meant the Palestinian market is now running out of key supplies. As a result, the prices of basic commodities are soaring in Gaza and its people are bearing the brunt of these severe conditions caused by the worrying political transformations in neighboring Egypt.

Amjad Najjar runs a supermarket in Gaza. “It has become very difficult to get the basic groceries to provide them to my customers,” Najjar said. “If I was lucky to secure some goods to my shop, I buy them at a shockingly high price, so I should sell them at these prices that the Gazan citizens cannot afford under these difficult economic situations”.

Najjar said the tunnels were the only source for having commodities at appropriate prices for people in Gaza.

Iman Aqeel is a mother of five children who needs to buy them new clothes for the upcoming harsh winter. “I was planning to do some shopping, but I was shocked with the sky-high prices in the shops,” Aqeel said.

The 35-year old mother will find it difficult to buy proper clothes for her sons to warm them during the rainy season. “This has been very frustrating,” Aqeel concluded.

Raji Sourani, a head of Palestinian Center for Human Rights, found the latest Egyptian step as being a violation to the neighbor’s rights. “What it should be between neighbors is a longstanding relations, mutual respect, and care,” Sourani said to Mondoweiss.

About Isra Saleh El-Namy

Isra Saleh El-Namy is a journalist in Gaza.

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28 Responses

  1. Les
    November 10, 2015, 12:31 pm

    It would be nice to know who is paying Egypt to do this.

  2. JustJessetr
    November 10, 2015, 3:47 pm

    I’m glad Egypt is destroying the tunnels.

    • talknic
      November 10, 2015, 8:24 pm

      @ JJ I guess the Nazis were also glad whenever Jewish tunnels were destroyed https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Smuggling.html

    • CigarGod
      November 10, 2015, 8:33 pm

      Yeah, the Nazi’s destroyed the Warsaw tunnels for the exact same reasons. The people were confined for the exact same reasons. Isn’t it interesting that both peoples are semites…and you are cheering for their destruction?
      Just give me a howdy back.
      I’m reading: “A Pen Warmed-up in Hell, Mark Twain in Protest”…to an audience tonight. I’d like to tell them a real war crime sympathizer said howdy to me.
      Help a brother out, will ya?

  3. Herchel
    November 10, 2015, 7:41 pm

    how will the needy citizens of gaza get their rockets and other implements of terror with these tunnels being closed? I demand an emergency UNSC meeting.

    • talknic
      November 10, 2015, 11:33 pm

      @ Herchel It’s quite legal for the occupied to import by what ever means they can the weapons of resistance. BTW their home made rockets are not imported and explosives can be made from chicken droppings.

      Terror is define as targeting civilians. One cannot ascertain the target of an unguided rocket from the receiving end. Furthermore, the IDF memorial site shows more IDF have been targeted injured and killed than have Israeli civilians. Israeli military, military supplies, bases, personnel are all valid targets, no matter where they are.

      Statistics on civilian collateral expected in warfare is far far higher than has ever been reported from unguided Palestinian arms

    • echinococcus
      November 11, 2015, 1:21 am

      Excellent idea, Hershel. A UNSC resolution to arm and train Palestinian resistance to a parity with the Zionist entity is badly needed, as only that is likely to justify enough force to implement international law and achieve some justice. Commendable idea, should be spread widely.

  4. CigarGod
    November 10, 2015, 8:20 pm

    Gee, another state jumps on the war crimes band wagon.

    I studied a U.S. Army field manual when I was in. I believe the title was: Starvation as a Weapon of War.

  5. DaBakr
    November 10, 2015, 9:10 pm

    so when is the BDS Egypt starting?

    • oldgeezer
      November 10, 2015, 11:11 pm

      There are already calls to boycott Egypt and a facebook page associated with it. If you actually cared you would know that.

    • for-peace
      November 11, 2015, 3:17 am

      Just to put DaBakr, Hophmi and like minds at ease: I suspect many who contribute on this site, do put Egypt, Saudi Arabia and ISIS under the same critical scrutiny we subject the government of Israel. We do not want to discriminate on Israel vs. ISIS. We just want to make sure the approach of civilized nations towards these egregious violators of human rights is consistent. While we are bombing one of them, we should not be handing over bombs to the others.

      • Kris
        November 11, 2015, 12:27 pm

        @for-peace: “We just want to make sure the approach of civilized nations towards these egregious violators of human rights is consistent. While we are bombing one of them, we should not be handing over bombs to the others.”

        Outstanding comment, thank you!

      • JustJessetr
        November 15, 2015, 9:51 pm

        “I suspect many who contribute on this site, do put Egypt, Saudi Arabia and ISIS under the same critical scrutiny we subject the government of Israel.”

        Really? Where? When? Here?

      • for-peace
        February 11, 2016, 12:04 pm

        You are right JustJessetr, I rarely have a chance to do it here by virtue of the topics discussed here. I just wanted to say that is how I feel and I do express it in other fora when I have the chance. I should also be more modest speaking for others here. It took me a long while to see your comment so I am just responding now.

    • diasp0ra
      November 11, 2015, 6:05 am

      Why don’t you start one and we’ll join you?

      But as usual, you don’t really care. You just want to use the “double standard” argument. Nobody is stopping you from starting a BDS campaign on Egypt. If you cared, start it. Go ahead.

    • eljay
      November 11, 2015, 7:25 am

      || DaBakr: so when is the BDS Egypt starting? ||

      Given the constant whining by Zio-supremacists that Israel feels “singled out” by BDS…    :-(    …I’m surprised you and you’re co-collectivists haven’t already started a similar campaign against Egypt.

      So…what are you waiting for?

      • eljay
        November 11, 2015, 8:55 am

        || eljay: …I’m surprised you and you’re co-collectivists … ||

        Correction: …I’m surprised you and your co-collectivists …

      • DaBakr
        November 11, 2015, 10:38 pm

        best to leave to ‘professional’ boycotts to you progressive left-wing moralists.

      • eljay
        November 12, 2015, 7:15 am

        || DaBakr: best to leave to ‘professional’ boycotts to you progressive left-wing moralists. ||

        So, just like that, you’re abandoning Israel, your “historic homeland”? Leaving it all alone in the world to be “singled out” by BDS? Why do you hate Jews so much?

    • amigo
      November 11, 2015, 11:41 am

      “so when is the BDS Egypt starting?” duhbakr

      It has already started.

      2 months ago , I refused to buy Egyptian made sheets /pilows in my local store in protest of the imprisonment for two years without a trial of (then 17 year old ) Irish citizen .

      http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/ibrahim-halawa-still-on-hunger-strike-says-sister-1.2260152

      So you see , duhbakr , I , am not singling out the “Jews”.However , I do recognise that Israel has been acting in a way that invites boycott for far longer than Eygpt and you wouldn,t want us to allow non Jews to jump the queue ahead of you chosen folks , now would you.That would be antisemitic –wouldn,t it??.

      • DaBakr
        November 11, 2015, 10:42 pm

        when I see a well funded campaign on American campuses and the streets of the EU directed at Egypt I might believe your Egypt et al boycott BS. And BTW-a fool is still a fool wether they are Jewish or something else. I cold care less that you are ‘not’ Jewish. Congratulations.

      • talknic
        November 11, 2015, 11:29 pm

        @ DaBakr “when I see a well funded campaign on American campuses and the streets of the EU directed at Egypt “

        A) If there were/are well funded campaigns against Israel’s illegal activities in non-Israeli territories, you might have a point.

        B) do you want Egypt to break its peace treaty with Israel? http://pages.citebite.com/j2i3b9c7g4kib

        “And BTW-a fool is still a fool wether they are Jewish or something else.”

        Yes indeed. Only a fool would support with a plethora of nonsense excuses a state in breach of International Law, the UN Charter and more UNSC resolutions than any other state on the planet

      • CigarGod
        November 11, 2015, 11:38 pm

        Should we give dabakr points for polishing a turd so furiously?

    • talknic
      November 11, 2015, 11:41 pm

      @ DaBakr “so when is the BDS Egypt starting?”

      Right behind you pal … what’s the web address for your petition?

      It took a half century or so and numerous ignored UNSC resolutions for BDS to start against Israel for its illegal activities in non-Israeli territories.

      The usual MO is to first lobby one’s own politicians to bring some weight to bear on the Egyptian Govt. Failing that, BDS usually emerges from unfunded individuals and grass roots organizations.

  6. Curatica
    November 11, 2015, 8:20 am

    El-Sisi is the worst tyrant in the history of Egypt and plays strictly the Jewish and American card. Morsi was naive to believe that he could dislodge the powerful, corrupt, military apparatus which ruled to country with an iron fist for over sixty years.

    Certainly, Israel rejoices.

    • DaBakr
      November 11, 2015, 10:52 pm

      Israel does not rejoice at Sisi. If the Sinai was not returned to Egypt and the circumstances since-from Sadat’s assassination to Morsi’s election to the control IS, along with Ikwhan , Hamas, AQ and other groups funded by Iran, have over swaths of northern Sinai Sisi would be as anti-Israel as most Egyptians still are. Is he useful to Israel? I would say he is only circumstantially useful and Egyptian citizens may not like israel much but they definitely appreciate Israel helping to tamp down terror emanating from the terrorist camps and countering Iranian* influence in the area. They would just never admit it publicly.

      *please refrain from ‘explaining’ -like other fools here do-how iran is Shi’a and Ikwhan , Hamas , etc are Sunni as its well known by many that Iran has supported terror groups from both sects in its quest for influence and expansion into the ME

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