Last night Israel issued a warning to its tourist citizens in the Sinai to come home immediately. In response it appears Hamas has shut down the tunnels for fear that a kidnapped Israeli might be smuggled into the strip. The Guardian claims Hamas may have come under pressure from Egypt.
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip have ordered the immediate closure of all smuggling tunnels along the Egyptian border after a security alert in Sinai.
Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls Gaza, told smugglers to shut down the tunnels last night and then barred them from the area today.
With Gaza under a tight economic blockade from Israel, hundreds of tunnels have been dug under the southern border with Egypt to smuggle in food, fuel, construction materials, cars and even live animals. Hamas has made money on the smuggling business, imposing taxes and importing goods itself.
It is understood the closure is temporary and follows a security alert issued to all Israeli tourists in Sinai yesterday.
The tunnel closure appears intended to stop militant groups bringing in kidnap victims from Egypt into Gaza and could have been due to pressure from the Egyptian government. Hamas officials would not say why the tunnels were shut. more