Over the past 24 hours, at least three news services have written articles about Egypt's flooding of Gaza smuggling tunnels.
IBT, Andalou and especially Reuters all came out with stories about the topic. All of them played up how ordinary Gazans are suffering from Egypt's decision. All of them downplay the fact that the tunnels are used to smuggle in - and, according to Egypt, out - weapons for jihadist terror groups.
The cluster is not coincidental. It means that Hamas is pulling the strings behind media coverage in Gaza, in this case to pressure Egypt to stop destroying their weapons imports and tax revenue from smuggling commercial goods.
Of course, the media won't report how they are being used as puppets.
Andalou talks about new sinkholes and landslides from the tunnel destruction:
Major landslide late Tuesday in the southern border area between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Egypt resulted in a major sinkhole after the Egyptian army pumped seawater into the strip’s tunnels for around two months, the Gaza Ministry of Interior said.
Palestinian security and civil defense teams rushed to the area to protect civilians at risk, the ministry added.
A number of tunnels had collapsed south of Rafah, causing a sudden landslide, a Palestinian national security source told Anadolu Agency, adding that this is the fourth time the area suffers from landslides and sinkholes.
Blockaded by Israel since 2007, Gaza used to receive much-needed supplies through the network of smuggling tunnels on its border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Reuters also manages to blame Israel in an article about how Egypt is acting:
Local residents say that at the peak of the tunnel business, after Hamas Islamists seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 and Israel tightened a closure of its crossings into the enclave, nearly 2,500 underground passages snaked under the border with Egypt.Yet none of the articles mentions that Egypt is the Gaza neighbor that has hermetically sealed the sector, with practically zero imports, zero exports and almost no people traveling across Rafah, while Israel allows thousands of trucks of goods and thousands of people to cross between Israel and Egypt every week.
The direction of traffic was mainly into Gaza. Commercial goods - and weapons smuggled in separate tunnels controlled by Hamas and other militant factions - flowed in defiance of what Palestinians and many of their supporters decried as neighboring Israel's siege.
Reuters does finally mention a little truth:
At one point an estimated 22,000 Palestinians worked in the tunnel "industry". However, it shrank markedly in 2010 after Israel, under international pressure to ease restrictions on commercial imports into Gaza, allowed more goods in through its overland crossings.But Reuters' main focus is the environmental damage:
Then this September, battling an insurgency in northern Sinai, Egypt decided to shut down the tunnels once and for all. Determined to halt what it said was an arms flow in the opposite direction, from Gaza to the militants, it cleared the area on its side of the border and began pumping water into the underground maze, collapsing the land.
Tunnel-builders said Egypt has pumped in water several times since September, and that over the course of a few weeks had done more damage to the network, which once accounted for an estimated 30 percent of Gaza's imports, than Israeli bombing had caused over the past two decades.
Now, the diggers said, fewer than 20 tunnels remain for commercial goods, with easy-to-smuggle cigarettes the main contraband. No one can, or will, say how many weapons tunnels remain - a secret that is guarded by Hamas and other armed groups, which last fought a war with Israel in 2014.
What is left is an environmental mess, residents and local officials said, with the sea water polluting underground drinking reserves. The overflow has reached streets and homes within 100 meters (yards) of the border fence. Vast puddles and mud are everywhere.The fact that thousands of rockets whose components were smuggled in those tunnels have been shot at Israeli civilians is just not worth mentioning.
"One cubic meter of sea water pollutes 40 cubic meters of underground water," said Tamer al-Sleibi, water department director in the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority in Gaza, who is concerned about long-term environmental damage.
Egypt's campaign, he said, could weaken the foundations of homes already on shaky ground due to tunnel-building and make land unfit for agriculture in areas near the frontier. There is also a health risk as the water turns stagnant, allowing mosquitoes and other disease carriers to breed.
Hamas has largely succeeded in manipulating the media. You know - the reporters who pretend to be so fiercely independent but who instead jump when a terror group tells them to.
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