The Associated Press
December 6, 2008
EL-ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian police have confiscated whole herds of sheep and cattle set to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip ahead of a major Islamic holiday through the tunnels running underneath border, a security official said Saturday.
The official said that 17 sheep were confiscated on Saturday just as smugglers began to introduce them into the tunnel in an area just north of the divided border city of Rafah.
In two other incidents over the past 10 days, a total of 32 calves and 45 sheep were seized by police from smugglers, added the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
A blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel has created a vibrant smuggling trade through tunnels of everything from food and cigarettes to weapons from the Egyptian side.
With the advent of the Muslim feast Eid al-Adha in which a sheep is traditionally sacrificed, livestock is in high demand.
The official also said that police caught trucks carrying some half million liters of fuel near border.
Dozens of drivers and Bedouins have been arrested, he said and adding that the fuel was stolen from gas stations in northern Sinai to be sold to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The tunnels are a major lifeline for Gaza, sealed by Israel and Egypt for more than a year.