Friday, March 13, 2009

Border Areas Bombed Again

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa Al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Mar 12 (IPS) - Almost two months after the war on the Gaza Strip, the border area between the battered coastal enclave and Egypt continues to come under frequent Israeli aerial bombardment. Israeli officials say the strikes target cross-border tunnels used to smuggle weapons to Palestinian resistance factions.....

"Israel is using earth-penetrating munitions against targets in the border zone, explosions from which cause damage on the Egyptian side," said Al- Bulk, a resident of Al-Arish, located some 40 kilometres west of the border. "Since the beginning of Israel's assault on Gaza until now, hundreds of homes in Egyptian Rafah have been damaged as a result of Israeli bombardments.

"There are also suspicions that Israel might be using depleted uranium in some of these munitions, which could have a catastrophic effect on the local environment," added Al-Bulk.....

Inspections of the sensitive border area by U.S. officials have become commonplace since the end of the recent Gaza crisis. "An official delegation from the U.S. embassy comes to inspect the border about once every five days.....

"Most of the tunnels are of a commercial nature," said Al-Bulk. "Some specialise in transporting livestock and poultry and others are equipped with railways to carry heavier goods. But relatively little is known about tunnels allegedly used for arms smuggling."

"Most of the tunnels are used to transport everyday goods such as food and fuel, in order to offset the depravations of the three-year-old siege," agreed Mansour. "If the siege was lifted, and Gazans had access to basic supplies, most smuggling activity would evaporate overnight."

Over the regular Israeli air strikes on the border zone, Mansour questioned the lack of official reaction from Egypt.

"Egypt isn't raising any objections at all to these regular strikes," he said. "This raises questions about the covert relationship between Egypt and Israel - and even suggests the possibility that Egypt is tacitly permitting the strikes." "

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