Egypt’s military is digging holes near the country’s border with the Gaza Strip for a military-operated fish farm, which would end the use of the tunnels smugglers have used since the Islamic militant group Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, the Associated Press reported. Egypt put up with the smuggling for years, but the filling in of these tunnels with water would end that tolerance.

The 18 fisheries will take up about nine miles along the Egypt-Gaza border, and will be used to grow mullet and shrimp, taking over a previous plan to build a small canal in the area, which officials later said would flood the border. Construction began about a week ago, and is already having an effect on some smugglers. One smuggler told the AP he had to pay $10,000 to smuggle $6,000 of motorcycle parts into Gaza because smuggling is now riskier.

The filling in of these fish farms would further isolate Hamas, the group has said, which has collected millions of dollars in revenue from the smuggled goods for years. Hamas used the tunnels through the tenures of former Egyptian Presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi -- an ally of Hamas. When Morsi was ousted in 2013, the government said Islamic militants used the tunnels to move in and out of Gaza and Egypt, though Hamas denied it.

Egypt destroyed tunnels in November after 31 Egyptian troops were killed in an assault about 20 miles from Rafah, a city in the Gaza Strip, a month earlier. There are said to be about 20 tunnels left.

 

 

 

Egypt said in May it had destroyed about 500 openings to tunnels between the country and the Gaza Strip during a six-month span. Egypt and Gaza announced in March they would reopen their border, which was closed last year because of growing tensions between the two countries.