WASHINGTON — Under Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood government, the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt were re-opened. Some thought that the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza would never close after this, but that day has apparently come.
Reuters reports that the once-busy route between the Sinai desert and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip is now closed. As a result, gas and cement prices have spiked in the Palestinian territory.
Palestinians blame the widespread opposition protests in Egypt for the closures, which involve the Egyptian military flooding the tunnels the past several weeks. It is also due, notes Reuters, to a strong Islamist presence in the Sinai peninsula.
Egypt’s President and head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Morsi, is facing a possible ouster in upcoming elections and rising tension between secular democrats and pro-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood activists. A struggling economy, rising sectarian tensions between Muslims, Copt Christians and secularists, imprisoning bloggers, and power grabs by the Muslim Brotherhood are destabilizing the country.
The Egyptian military has clamped down on these tunnels and now traffic in the tunnels is at a standstill. But, weapons that were smuggled to Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip are diminishing and means that more Israeli lives could be saved, in the end.