Egypt’s abrupt shutdown of operations against tunnels revives missile flow to Gaza

Tuesday, Nov. 18, Egypt’s special forces and engineering units suddenly shut down operation against the smuggling tunnels to Gaza without warning to Washington or Jerusalem, debkafile‘s military sources report. US and Israeli requests for clarifications from Cairo, which must have ordered the stoppage, were not answered. So the Obama administration signaled Egypt that if it continues to violate the international accords governing the status of the Egyptian-Gazan border, there will be consequences.
Washington is put out particularly because Cairo did not bother to notify the American engineering corps officers and men working with Egyptian troops in Sinai since early 2009 in a concerted effort to eradicate the tunnels that their mission was cut short.
debkafile‘s Washington sources report that the congressional subcommittees responsible for approving US economic and military aid appropriations to Egypt have been informed of the Egyptian violation.
Our military sources report that the stoppage is pretty comprehensive:
1. Egyptian forces have been pulled out of northern Sinai and Rafah, the town split down the middle between Egyptian Sinai and the Gaza Strip and under which most of the smuggling tunnels run. The trucks carrying heavy weapons for the Palestinians in Gaza can now unload directly into the tunnel openings without interference.
2. The network of sensors and security cameras installed with the help of American military engineers in northern Sinai and along the Philadelphi border corridor were all deactivated as of last Tuesday.
3. The Egyptians discontinued a major project for driving huge iron beams 16 meters deep into the tunnels as an obstruction to traffic. Some of the shafts caved in.
4. Those beams were effective for disabling the 200-250 tunnels used to smuggle mostly civilian merchandise into the Gaza Strip because they are no more than 10-15 meters deep.
However, the roughly 50-60 “strategic tunnels” for the transportation of military hardware including heavy guns and missiles run 50-60 meters underground and are outside the range of the iron beams. They are moreover strong structures with reinforced concrete walls and ceilings, electric wiring, ventilation and safety hatches. Since the Egyptian troops’ unexplained pullback from their border positions, hardware has been passing through those conduits freely and straight into the hands of Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.

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