RAFAH, Gaza Strip, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Abu Mohamed, a Palestinian owner of a smuggling tunnel that had been dug underneath the borders between the Gaza Strip and Egypt several months ago, wasn't able to hold his temper seeing Egyptian army machines demolishing it.
For Abu Mohamed, 45-year-old resident of Rafah town in southern Gaza Strip, this tunnel was his family's sole source of living. Together with 10 other workers, they work on shifts in his tunnel carrying goods, food products and other stuff from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.
His tunnel is one of the hundreds of tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt to defy a tight Israeli blockade imposed on the coastal enclave right after Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in June 2007.
It is not the first time that the Egyptian army shuts down smuggling tunnels. Abu Mohamed told Xinhua that his tunnel has been demolished twice over the past six months, but "each time I rebuild it again."
However, this time he won't be able to reopen the tunnel, as an Egypt court issued a legal decision three weeks ago to shut down all tunnels to protect Egypt's national security.
Over the past three weeks, Egyptian army machines and vehicles have been working round the clock to destroy those tunnels between the two parts of Raha town that was divided in 1978 following Camp David Peace Agreement.
"The losses are great after my tunnel was destroyed. Digging it underneath the borders and fixing it each time have cost me about 1 million U.S. dollars," said Abu Mohamed.
Besides, Rafah residents claimed that Egyptian army has pumped sewage water into the tunnels, severely reducing the tunnels' business over the past six months.
An Egyptian weekly magazine accused Hamas armed wing al-Qassam Brigades for being involved in Egypt's recent riots and unrest. Although Hamas denied any involvement in Egypt's internal affairs, the Egyptian army has escalated its destruction of tunnels, mainly in the neighborhoods of al-Salam and al-Barazeel in the town of Rafah.
The deposed government of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, slammed Egyptian security measures against the tunnels, urging Egypt to find an alternative and open Rafah crossing point for commercial purpose.
Yousef Rezqah, an aide to Hamas premier Ismail Haneya, told Xinhua that his government and Hamas movement are concerned about Egypt's national security, "but before closing the tunnels, Egypt has to open Rafah crossing for the export and import of goods from Egypt to Gaza and vice versa."
Abu al-Amjad, another owner of a smuggling tunnel, said his tunnel is still operating but could soon be shut down. "We got sick of working underground for more than five years, I think it is time to work on earth under the sun, which we have missed too much," he said.