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February 14, 2016 2:09 pm

Report: Egypt Cancels Netanyahu Visit to Cairo After Israeli Minister’s Gaza Tunnels Gaffe

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Campaign photo of Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian Defense Minister who has resigned to run for president. Photo: El-Sisi Campaign.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons.

Egypt canceled a scheduled visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because of a gaffe by Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz claiming Egypt was flooding Gazan tunnels partly at Israel’s request, pan-Arab news outlet Elaph reported on Sunday.

According to Elaph, Egyptian officials denied Steinitz’s claims and relayed their anger and embarrassment with the remarks in a letter to Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, the Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Defense Ministry.

The Prime Minister’s Office meanwhile denied Netanyahu was planning a visit to Cairo in the first place, according to Channel 2.

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Speaking at an event in Beersheba on February 6, Steinitz said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was ordering the destruction of Hamas’ tunnels between the Sinai peninsula and Gaza Strip “to a certain extent” because Israel was requesting it.

Egypt, like Israel, views Hamas as a national security threat. Already by 2014, the Egyptian military said it had destroyed more than 1,600 such tunnels, used to smuggle in a wide range of goods, including food, luxury items, weapons, construction materials and medicines.

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