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Why Egypt Is Flooding the Gaza Strip's Tunnels

A Palestinian man approaches the Gaza Strip in one of many  smuggling tunnels from the border's Egyptian side
A Palestinian man approaches the Gaza Strip in one of many smuggling tunnels from the border's Egyptian sidePhotograph by Patrick Baz/AFP via Getty Images

Egyptian security forces flooded smuggling tunnels that run between Egypt and Gaza this weekend, as Egypt appeared to be resuming its commitment to restore order to the beleaguered Sinai Peninsula and quell the flow of contraband into Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Hundreds of underground passageways snake under the Egypt-Gaza border, providing a way to maneuver around the 2007 Israeli-led economic blockade that took effect after the Islamic militant group took control of the Strip. The tunnels bring in everything from food and medicine to cement and iron, providing up to 75 percent of the goods that stock Gazan shelves, according to an analyst in Gaza City. The tunnels also facilitate the flow of weapons and militants into and out of the enclave. This poses problems for Egypt, already embroiled in domestic instability.