Egypt building Gaza underground wall

December 17th, 2009 - 11:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Cairo, Dec 17 (DPA) Egypt is building an underground wall along its border with the Gaza Strip in a bid to curtail the network of smuggling tunnels, a government-owned newspaper confirmed in a front-page editorial Thursday.
Egypt has been under international pressure to curtail the lucrative smuggling trade in basic commodities, drugs, weapons, livestock, motorbikes, and now, reportedly, cars through the tunnels since the imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas solidified its control of the territory in 2007.

“The wall … is in fact the same wall” already along the border, “with reinforcements made to the foundations buried underground”, the editor of Cairo’s al-Gomhuriya daily wrote Thursday.

The paper defended Egypt’s “sovereign right” to build a wall against critics.

“The smuggling of weapons through tunnels in Sinai is a direct assault on Egypt’s sovereignty and the legitimacy of the Egyptian state,” al-Gomhuriya said.

“When Egypt stops the infiltration into Gaza through the tunnels, it is not trying to be hostile to the Palestinians, to be friends with the US, or to appease the Israelis. It is a country trying to protect its land,” the paper added.

The editorial’s tone echoed remarks from Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki earlier this week.

In comments to the London daily al-Sharq al-Awsat and Egyptian television respectively, the two stopped short of confirming reports of an underground wall, but defended Egypt’s “right” to take such steps.

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