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Analysis

At least 6 Palestinians said killed in Gaza tunnel collapse

Contact with the Hamas diggers lost Tuesday night, Palestinian media says; at least 5 reportedly hurt in incident

At least six Palestinians have been reported killed in the collapse of a tunnel dug under the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening.

The incident occurred in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City.

According to Israel’s Channel 10 television, the six fatalities were all members of the Hamas terror group, as were the five others injured in the incident.

The Hebrew-language Walla website said seven people had been killed, and their bodies taken to the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. According to Walla, the tunnel collapsed due to severe weather conditions, including heavy rainfall.

The nature of the tunnel in question was not immediately clear. Hamas has in the past dug cross-border tunnels into Israel in order to stage attacks on civilians and soldiers. Other tunnels are used by the terror group as part of its defensive infrastructure.

The Strip has been subject to a blockade by both Egypt and Israel, designed in part to prevent the terror group from importing arms and building new tunnels reinforced with concrete.

Hamas has built dozens of tunnels into Israel, many of which were used to carry out attacks during their 2014 war. The IDF said it destroyed over 30 tunnels during Operation Protective Edge, but officials have expressed fear the terror group is seeking to rebuild the infrastructure.

In December, 14 Gazans were rescued after a smuggling tunnel they were working in on the Egyptian border collapsed following deliberate flooding by Egypt.

The tunnel, located in the area of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, was being used to smuggle goods across the border when it was flooded and collapsed, sparking an hours-long rescue effort by emergency crews.

According to Palestinian media reports, the 14 were trapped and feared dead but managed to reach an unflooded section of the tunnel. They were then pulled to the surface by rescue crews from Gaza’s civil defense agency.

Egypt has embarked on a massive campaign aimed at stemming cross-border smuggling between Gaza and Sinai, where they are fighting an insurgency by Islamist militants.

The operation has included flooding hundreds of tunnels that once dotted the border region, and building a 500-meter-wide buffer zone filled with seawater.

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