A member of the Hamas terror group was killed Tuesday in a tunnel under the Egypt-Gaza border, according to Palestinian media reports.
The man was reportedly a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, and was working in a tunnel near the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
The collapse came a day after another Palestinian was killed when an smuggling tunnel caved in north of Rafah. According to locals, the man in that incident was repairing the tunnel, which had been damaged by Egyptian authorities.
Past weeks have seen at least five separate tunnel collapses in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian reports, and Tuesday’s incident marks the 11th death. In the previous cave-ins, the victims were identified as members of Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Palestinian enclave.
On Tuesday morning, the head of the Israel Defense Forces hinted at hidden efforts to counter Gazan tunnels built with the purpose of carrying out attack on Israeli communities near the Gazan border.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot told a conference at Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Center that the IDF is working, mostly in secret, to counter the Gazan tunnel threat and has employed nearly 100 engineering vehicles on the border to locate and destroy the Hamas passageways into Israel.
“We are doing a lot, but many of [the things we do] are hidden from the public. We have dozens, if not a hundred, engineering vehicles on the Gaza border,” Eisenkot said.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz confirmed Saturday that the Egyptian military had flooded several smuggling tunnels beneath the Strip’s southern border at Jerusalem’s request. Speaking at an event in Beersheba, Steinitz said that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had destroyed numerous tunnels built by Hamas, including last October, on Israel’s behalf.
“Some Hamas tunnels were flooded, to a certain extent at our request,” Steinitz said, according to Ynet. “Flooding is a good solution in that realm.” The energy minister added that security coordination between Israel and Egypt was “better than ever.”
A senior official in the Egyptian foreign ministry called the Israeli ambassador in Cairo, Haim Koren, to voice his objection to Steinitz’s remarks, the London-based news site al-Araby al-Jadeed reported.
Since September last year, the Egyptian military has periodically pumped seawater into the underground cross-border tunnels dug between its Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip in a campaign to stamp out smuggling.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.