Three Palestinians were wounded Thursday when they were shot by Egyptian forces in a smuggling tunnel beneath the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
The three were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. The severity of their injuries were not immediately clear, and further details regarding the incident were not released.
Egypt began creating a wide buffer zone along the Gaza border in late 2014 in a bid to destroy the hundreds of smuggling tunnels Cairo says are used by Palestinian activists to deliver weapons to jihadis who are battling Egyptian forces in the Sinai peninsula. Egypt has also been carrying out digging work in the area that Palestinians believe is intended to flood the last remaining tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai.
The work has been criticized by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, with chief Ismail Haniyeh accusing Egypt of further besieging the enclave, which is already under an Israeli-Egyptian naval blockade and severe border restrictions.
Since the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, jihadist groups have stepped up their attacks against Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai peninsula.
Hamas lost a major ally with Morsi’s overthrow and has had strained relations with current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who overthrew Morsi while army chief.
Tunnels have long been used to transport people and goods in and out of Gaza. Egypt controls the only crossing into the Strip not overseen by Israel, in Rafah.
AFP contributed to this report.