Hamas: Egyptian army campaign against Gaza tunnels is political

The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday said the Egyptian army has recently stepped up a campaign to demolish cross-border tunnels for "political reasons."

Hamas spokesperson Ehab Ghussain said a commercial alternative to the tunnels should be provided before closing them. 

“We are talking with the Egyptian authorities about that,” he added.

Ghussain also said Gaza suffers from fuel shortages when the tunnels are closed or destroyed.

He added that traffic through the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt went down from 1,000 passengers to less than 200 passengers a day after Egyptian authorities agreed to sporadically open the crossing for a few hours a day.

The Palestinian NGO Network meanwhile denounced what it called a campaign by Egyptian media to slander Palestinians, claiming it has led to more stringent procedures at border crossings.

While accepting Egyptian authorities' security concerns due to continuining domestic political tensions, the network called for an end to the campaign to avoid any deleterious effect on the "historic relations" between Egyptians and Palestinians.

A senior Hamas official told press Tuesday that Israel bore sole responsibility for the economic blockade on the Gaza Strip. "There is one siege, not two," Gaza deputy premier Ziad Thatha said.