Last updated: 15 September, 2012

Gazans protest Egyptian tunnels closure

About 200 Palestinians marched on Saturday in a Hamas-organised protest in the southern Gaza Strip against neighbouring Egypt’s closure of cross-border tunnels.

The demonstrators, half of them children, carried banners with slogans calling on Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to “End the Siege of Gaza!” and saying “Do not close the lifeline between Egypt and Gaza,” an AFP journalist at the rally in the border town of Rafah said.

“We call on our Egyptian brothers to stop their campaign against the tunnels which have been dug to allow Palestinians to overcome the blockade imposed by Israel in the Gaza Strip,” Mansur Barak, a local leader of the Islamist movement Hamas, which rules the coastal strip, told the crowd.

Following an attack which killed 16 Egyptian border police in the Sinai on August 5, Cairo started to seal or destroy the network of tunnels on suspicion that some of the assailants had used them to sneak in from adjacent Gaza.

The closures accompanied a major Egyptian military operation to hunt down militants in the remote and lawless Sinai.

The tunnels are a vital lifeline for supplies of food, clothes, building materials and fuel into the impoverished Palestinian territory subjected to an Israeli blockade since 2006.