Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Egypt floods Gaza tunnels to cut Palestinian lifeline


GAZA CITY (Reuters) -- Egyptian forces have flooded smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip in a campaign to shut them down, Egyptian and Palestinian officials said.

The network of tunnels is a vital lifeline for Gaza, bringing in an estimated 30 percent of all goods that reach the enclave and circumventing a blockade imposed by Israel for more than seven years.

Reporters saw one tunnel being used to bring in cement and gravel suddenly fill with water on Sunday, sending workers rushing for safety. Locals said two other tunnels were likewise flooded, with Egyptians deliberately pumping in water.

"The Egyptians have opened the water to drown the tunnels," said Abu Ghassan, who supervises the work of 30 men at one tunnel some 200 yards from the border fence.

An Egyptian security official in the Sinai told Reuters the campaign started five days ago.

"We are using water to close the tunnels by raising water from one of the wells," he said, declining to be named.

Dozens of tunnels had been destroyed since last August following the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers in a militant attack near the Gaza fence. more

Election body: 70,000 register to vote in Gaza


RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Around 70,000 people have registered to vote in the Gaza Strip since the Central Elections Commission began updating the electoral roll two days ago, a statement from the group said Wednesday.

Some 257 registration centers will be open for one week to update the electoral roll in the Gaza Strip, with an estimated 350,000 unregistered eligible voters living in Gaza.

The roll has not been updated in Gaza since Jan. 2005 and the operation of the CEC in Gaza is seen as a boost to reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas. more