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Egypt army destroys 13 more Gaza tunnels

Egypt's army destroys more tunnels connecting Sinai Peninsula to Gaza Strip, taking to 1,639 the overall number it has laid to waste
Palestinians cross into Egypt at the Rafah border gate between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip on July 12, 2014 (AA)

Egypt's army said Sunday it has destroyed 13 more tunnels connecting the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip, taking to 1,639 the overall number it has laid waste to.

Cairo has poured troops into the peninsula to counter a rising insurgency since the ouster of democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi last year, and its security operation involves the destruction of these tunnels.

The Palestinian group Hamas, which is the main power in Gaza, reportedly uses the tunnels to smuggle arms, food and money into the blockaded coastal enclave.

Israel has been waging a military offensive on Gaza since July 8, and it launched a ground assault on July 17 aimed at destroying the network of tunnels.

It accuses Hamas of using the tunnels to attacks on Israel.

Ties between Hamas and Cairo have deteriorated since the Egyptian army deposed Morsi on July 3, 2013. Hamas is an affiliate of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Cairo also accuses of Hamas of being involved in militant attacks inside Egypt, which have multiplied since Morsi was toppled, an accusation denied by Hamas.

Egypt to Turkey: stop criticising Sisi over Gaza

Meanwhile, Egypt's foreign ministry said it was summoning the Turkish charge d'affaires -- for the second time within a week -- to protest against Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's criticism in the media on Thursday of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Cairo's stance on the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told AFP that the protest comes after Erdogan in an interview with US television channel CNN "repeated again that Sisi was a tyrant and that Egypt has no role" in resolving the Gaza crisis.

Erdogan also denounced Sisi on July 18 as an "illegitimate tyrant", saying that Cairo could not be relied upon to negotiate a truce in Gaza.

Saturday's ministry statement said Erdogan's remarks show "the total ignorance and dismissal of the political reality in Egypt since the June 30 revolution".

"The Turkish leadership has repeatedly interfered in the internal affairs of the country, which is totally unacceptable," the ministry said.

Erdogan's remarks also "show deliberate ignoring of... Egypt's role and its position in defending the Palestinian cause".

"Continuing to impair Egypt and its elected leadership will undoubtedly lead to further action on the part of Egypt that would limit the development of the bilateral relations between the two countries."