Gaza, Alray - "About 80% of the Gaza border tunnels "no longer functioning due to a crackdown by the Egyptian military after it ousted President Mohammed Morsi," UN envoy Robert Serry told Reuters Tuesday.
The UN’s Middle East peace envoy, Robert Serry, told the Security Council that Gaza was experiencing "some serious shortages of fuel and basic building materials for which the tunnels had become the primary entry point due to severe restrictions on imports via the official crossings.”
"While the only Israeli crossing for goods ... has remained open and is handling increased quantities of consumers' goods, we are concerned that already difficult economic and humanitarian conditions in Gaza will further deteriorate, if access into Gaza through legal crossings of basic commodities like building materials is no liberalized," he warned.
The Palestinian government in Gaza say smuggling tunnels can be easily shut down once and forever, but only after finding an alternative that covers the daily basic needs for the populations.
Yousef Rezqah, the political aide of PM Ismail Haniyeh told Xinhua in an earlier interview that "the tunnels are temporary and they are not the natural and legal method for life in the Gaza Strip," adding " the natural fact is to have commercial crossings or a free joint trade zone between Gaza and Egypt."
Alaa Al-Rafati, Palestinian economy minister, said on Sunday that the tunnel closures since June had cost Gaza around $230 million, around a tenth of its GDP.
"The continued restrictions threaten to bring construction projects to a complete halt," he said, referring to cement that has been brought through the tunnels.