Two Gazans die in Egypt border tunnel: Hamas ministry

Egypt destroyed and closed various tunnels in 2013. Above, is a Palestinian tunnel that leads into Israel. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
0

Two Gazans die in Egypt border tunnel: Hamas ministry

  • The origins of the gas that suffocated the two Palestinians remains unknown
  • The tunnels were used by Palestinians to smuggle in supplies during Israeli blockades

GAZA: Two Palestinians including a Hamas policeman suffocated to death from gas in a cross-border tunnel under Gaza’s frontier with Egypt, the enclave’s interior ministry said Monday.
Interior ministry spokesman Iyad Al-Bozum said 39-year-old major Abdelhamid Al-Akar and Sabhy Abu Qarushayn, 28, “suffocated due to the inhalation of toxic gases.”
Civil defense crews, alerted on Sunday, retrieved the two bodies from the tunnel “after a great effort that lasted several hours,” Bozum said in a statement.
He did not comment on the origin of the substance, but a Palestinian security source said the Egyptian military has used gas to halt the use of illegal tunnels it finds along the border.
The Egyptian army could not be re2ndached for comment Monday but in 2010 Cairo denied similar charges after the deaths of four Palestinians in a border tunnel.
Tunnels have in the past been a key way for Gazans to skirt a decade-long Israeli blockade and, until recently, Egypt’s closure of its crossing with the enclave.
They once served as a lifeline for the cramped territory of two million people squeezed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.
But the passages have also been used to bring in weapons by Hamas, the enclave’s Islamist rulers who have fought three wars with Israel since 2008.
Egypt closed or destroyed dozens of tunnels after the overthrow of its Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Mursi, an ally of Hamas, in 2013, though several remain.
Tensions between Egypt and Hamas have eased in recent years and many Egyptian goods are now imported in to Gaza openly through the Rafah border crossing.


Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

Updated 11 min 11 sec ago
0

Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

  • Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability

CAIRO: Three terrorist attacks in the space of as many days have raised questions over whether the Egyptian security forces have brought extremist militancy in the country under control.

The attacks between Friday and Monday came after a period of relative calm. The Egyptian military has been involved in an extensive operation against terrorist groups in their stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year. Police forces have also been carrying out operations against cells in a large number of governorates.

The first of the three incidents was a failed attempt to plant a bomb near security forces in Cairo on Friday. On Saturday, however, a massive blast killed 14 members of the military on a security mission near El-Arish in Sinai.
The third bombing on Monday could have been just as deadly. A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was chased by police in the densely populated Al-Hussein district of Cairo near Al-Azhar Mosque. In the end three officers were killed.
The attacks came after months of relative calm in an insurgency that began after the Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in 2012.
Since then, militants have targeted the Egyptian security forces, churches, coptic Christians, tourists and ordinary Egyptians, killing hundreds.
In November 2017, gunmen carried out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history — killing more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai.

In response, the military launched a vast operation in February last year to “eliminate terrorism in Egypt.” The operation is ongoing.

Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability.

“[Terrorists] want to give Egypt a bad image to foreigners living abroad, on order to make a point. They want to abort the democratic reform process that Egypt’s been implementing in the past period,” MP Mohamed Maher Hamed told Arab News.

Author and political analyst Walid Qutb said Egypt is keen to host more important regional and international events and forums, including the African Nations football tournament, and a drop in terror-related incidents is key to this.

He said the return of terrorist operations at this time is an attempt to send a clear message that Egypt is not a safe country. What the extremists have done recently is a final dance and lost, Qutb said.
But political analyst Nabil Omar told Arab News that the elimination of terrorism requires more than just maintaining security forces.
There needs to be improved education and the spreading of correct information to improve the mentality of Egyptians, he said.
“I don’t think that the return of terrorist operations happening currently is linked to changes in politics in Egypt,” Omar said. “It has nothing to do with how well security is either. “Terrorist attacks are happening because the terrorists in question have decided to do so.”
The recent incidents in Cairo are both strange, Omar said. They targeted police forces in locations packed with civilians.
This could mean that terrorists want their attacks to be even bigger and deadlier, even if that comes at the cost of the innocent or unarmed.
“The positive thing here is that these recent terrorist attacks came after a long period of silence. During that period of time, the Egyptian military had the upper hand in relation to the terrorists – who used to be more in control before,” Omar said.
The attacks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described to the Munich Security Summit this week the Egyptian experience in regards to terrorism.