ARISH, Egypt, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Security forces in the northern Sinai are preparing to destroy tunnels that run between Egypt and the Gaza Strip near the city of Rafah, officials said.
The tunnels, which were were used to pass goods to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas seized control of the strip in 2007, will be blocked within the next few days, al-Masry al-Youm reported Thursday.
Tribal leaders in the area have complained the tunnels facilitate terrorist attacks in the Sinai and demanded they be shut down, an unnamed official said.
Gaza has requested that a free zone area be established in place of the tunnels, which Egypt has turned down, the official sad.
Security forces are also preparing to deploy special operations forces and heavy weapons to attack criminal outposts in Arish, Sheik Zuwayed and Rafah, the official said.
Witnesses said reinforcements of troops and police arrived at the North Sinai Security Directorate Wednesday evening.