We have devoted extensive coverage to the terror tunnels built by Hamas and other terror groups under the Gaza-Israel border, as well as the Hezbollah tunnels under the Lebanese border. Those tunnels are uniformly dug to prepare for or carry out terror activities.

There is an additional category of tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border that receive much less attention in the media. Those tunnels are not uniformly terror-related — many of them are smuggling tunnels for civilian goods.

Yet even those civilian tunnels often serve a terror purpose to smuggle weapons and terrorists into and out of Gaza.

Egypt has gone to great lengths to shut down the tunnels, accusing Hamas and other Gaza groups of giving assistance through the tunnels to ISIS-related groups fighting the Egyptian army in the Sinai peninsula.

Egypt has been destroying buildings along the border to clear the border area, and pumping huge volumes of water to try to flood the tunnels. It also reportedly has flooded tunnels with sewage, and toxic gas.

In 2018, Egypt reportedly destroyed 37 cross-border tunnels.

Just a few days ago, Egypt reportedly discovered another tunnel, and pumped toxic gas into it, killing a Palestinian police officer and a civilian. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Two Palestinians died Monday and several others wounded after Egyptian troops pumped toxic fumes into a smuggling tunnel stretching into the Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas-run Gaza Interior Ministry was quoted by Wafa news as identifying the two as 39-year-old Hamas officer Abdul Hamid al-Aker, who was killed during a “security mission to inspect the tunnel,” and 28-year-old Sobhi Abu Qarshin. Abu Qarshin was said to have died during a rescue attempt.

Several other security personnel were rescued by civil defense teams from inside the tunnel and were rushed to hospital, where they were described as being in moderate condition.

The ministry did not say what gas was used by the Egyptians.

Palestinian media showed images:

https://twitter.com/QudsNen/status/1094868149776891904

https://twitter.com/pallive_en/status/1094871565534146565

Yonah Jeremy Bot at The Jerusalem Post points out:

Egypt reportedly gassed Hamas tunnelers on Monday leading to two deaths and several injured as part of ongoing efforts to eliminate Hamas’ cross-border tunnels between it and Gaza.

Although deadly gas has been banned as a method of war even against combatants for a century there were no global outcries against Egypt.

In contrast to Egypt, Israel has declined to use gas or flooding tunnels with sewage water.

Recently, Israel has also favored filling tunnels with cement, which may be among the least lethal methods of neutralizing tunnels. Were Israel to use Egyptian methods, it would presumably face a wave of global criticism as it does nearly any time it uses force.

What principles of international law apply to tunnel warfare, how does Israel try to clear tunnels without violating the law and why the double-standard?

The double standard is even more pronounced because Egypt used these tactics against smuggling tunnels that are not dedicated solely to terror, unlike the tunnels into Israel from Gaza and Lebanon. More aggressive tactics could at least have some justification against military tunnels, but the smuggling tunnels at worst are dual purpose.

Why the double standard? We know the answer.

[Featured Image via IDF: Hamas tunnel into Israel destroyed January 2018]

 
 
donate
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.