-dug tunnels between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula
and the Gaza Strip
have been in existence since the 1990s with the purpose of smuggling in goods and arms, tunnel activity significantly increased and became more public after Israel’s Gaza blockade
following the 2007 Hamas-Fatah conflict
and subsequent Hamas takeover of Gaza. For many years, critical necessities, such as fuel for Gaza’s power plant, could only get in via the tunnels. Passenger tunnels were also created, so that Gazans with the ability to pay a high sum of money could enter and exit the Gaza Strip, despite frequent closure of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Citing the prevalence of drug and weapons trading through the tunnels, both Israel
and Egypt have destroyed and shut down many of the tunnels. During the Gaza War of 2014, tunnels that led into Israel were discovered. The detection and destruction of these tunnels was an official justification for the ground operation. See "Inside the Gaza tunnels
," Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, February 9, 2009; "The Long History of Gaza’s Tunnels
," Emily Harris, NPR, July 26, 2014; and "Were Gaza tunnels built to harm Israeli civilians?
" Emanuel Yelin, 972mag, August 11, 2014.