Egypt’s Armed Forces have been ordered to pump sea water from the Mediterranean Sea to flood the underground tunnels that connect to Gaza.
The tunnels, which connect the Gaza Strip to the Sinai Peninsula, have long been argued by the Military and the Egyptian government to be used for the flow of weaponry and militants onto Egyptian soil.
The operation, which commenced on Friday, is expected to have dire impacts of Palestinians living in Gaza, said pro-Palestinian activists who cited the tunnels’ role in ensuring necessary goods, such as food, water and clothing, reach families in Gaza.
Gaza, which is under the control of Hamas, has long struggled because of the Israeli blockade. Egypt also restricted the flow of supplies through the Rafah border in a move that has long been condemned by Hamas as support for the Israeli blockade.
In recent statements, Hamas said the operation “represents a great danger” to Palestinian lives and urged Egypt’s government to halt the operation. Last week, Hamas said that a tunnel had collapsed after it was flooded with water.
This is not the first time Egypt has attempted to tackle the issue of underground tunnels. In the past Egypt had planned to build a metal barrier that would extend underground and prevent the construction of tunnels. Egypt’s military also destroys tunnels on a regular basis, posting photographs of the destruction on social media.
Earlier this year, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi introduced legislation that would punish those who dig or use border tunnels for communication with foreign countries by life in prison.
Egypt has also built a ‘buffer zone’ at the shared border area between North Sinai and the Gaza Strip, relocating thousands of civilians and demolishing their homes to maintain the buffer zone.