Egypt says it killed 3 jihadists, destroyed Gaza tunnels
Three jihadists were killed by the Egyptian army in the Sinai as part of a vast campaign against militants on Tuesday that destroyed tunnels at Rafah on the Gaza border, Cairo said.
Operations carried out in recent days resulted in "the elimination of three takfiris", the army said, referring to Sunni Muslim extremists.
They also led to the "destruction of a number of tunnels in the city of Rafah in northern Sinai", it said in a statement.
"A conscript was wounded in clashes with terrorists" and "two civilians died as a result an explosion from a device targeting forces conducting raids", it added.
More than 200 suspected jihadists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed since Egypt launched operation "Sinai 2018" to rid the peninsula of Islamic militants in February, according to the military.
Jihadists launched an insurgency in Sinai after the military overthrew Egypt's elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his rule.
While the army maintains local people in the Sinai support its operation and receive humanitarian aid, Human Rights Watch says Egypt has stepped up its demolitions of homes, businesses and farms in the Sinai since launching the campaign against Islamists on February 9.
The Rafah border crossing is the only entrance to the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel, and Egypt's sole frontier with the Palestinian enclave has remained largely closed since 2013.
Egyptian authorities believe these tunnels are used by jihadists to enter North Sinai.
Last week, Egyptian diplomatic sources revealed fresh information surrounding Donald Trump's so-called 'deal of the century' for Palestinian-Israeli peace, notably that he plans to resolve many of Gaza's issues through establishing several economic projects in the neighbouring North Sinai.
Such plans include air and sea ports as well as establishing a trade zone and power station for Gazans, however all will remain under Egyptian supervision.
The plan was discussed during the Trump team's latest tour of the Middle East, undertaken by his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, during which they met no Palestinian officials. Instead, the pair met the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Qatar, who have all allegedly agreed to the plan without Palestinian support.
Sources told The New Arab that during Kushner and Greenblatt's meeting with the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and intelligence chief Abbas Kamel in Cairo earlier this month, they touched upon the details of the deal concerning the Palestinians and specifically Gaza.
Discussions were held and agreements made despite the peace plan experiencing major setbacks due to the Palestinian Authority's refusal to take part following Trump's announcement he was moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in December last year.
The sources explained that Kushner in Cairo discussed aspects of the deal to do with Egypt's role in it, namely joint projects with Gaza in the North Sinai, funded predominantly by Gulf money.