The principal Egyptian pipeline that transports gas to Israel and Jordan has been bombed, leading to a huge explosion, according to reports Monday.
Egyptian media report that the incident occurred in the Massaeed area just west of the town al-Arish in the northern part of the Sinai desert, sending plumes of smoke high into the air.
Since former President Hosni Mubarak was deposed last year, the pipeline has been sabotaged a dozen previous times, apparently to protest Egypt’s trade and economic ties with Israel.
BBC reported that almost half of Egyptian gas is exported to Israel, much to the consternation of many anti-Israeli elements in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation. During the Mubarak regime, Cairo signed a 20-year contract to provide gas to the Israelis – Reuters noted that some critics of the deal claim the Jewish state received excessively favorable terms in the agreement.
Meanwhile, the attack near al-Arish will likely lead to yet another shutdown of the gas pipeline; previous blasts have closed gas transmissions for up to a week.
The pipeline is operated by Gasco, a transportation subsidiary of the Egyptian state gas company EGAS.