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Gaza smuggling tunnel collapses, kills Palestinian

According to the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, 232 people have died in subterranean smuggling routes since 2007

A Palestinian man works inside a smuggling tunnel which connects the Gaza Strip and Egypt in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, November 24, 2012 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A Palestinian man works inside a smuggling tunnel which connects the Gaza Strip and Egypt in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, November 24, 2012 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A Palestinian man died Saturday beneath the Egypt-Gaza border near Rafah when a smuggling tunnel collapsed, a Gaza medical source reported.

Mousa Ghunaim, 26, who had been working at the site, was pronounced dead by a medical team that arrived at the scene.

According to the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, 232 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip due to collapsing smuggling tunnels since Israel imposed a blockade on the Hamas-controlled territory in 2007.

Gaza, which is home to 1.7 million people, has lived with border restrictions by Israel and Egypt since Hamas’s violent takeover of the territory in 2007. Smuggling under the 15-kilometer (9-mile) border has circumvented official crossings and bypassed restrictions since.

Israel restricts the influx of goods into the territory from its side of the enclave, so Gazans smuggle construction materials, cars and fuel — and even KFC — through the subterranean passages. The tunnels are also used to bring cash and weapons into the Hamas-controlled enclave where they are then used against Israel.

Hamas earns revenue by taxing goods that are brought in the Strip via the tunnels. However, following a terrorist attack on an Egyptian army base in August 2012 that killed 16 border guards in the Sinai Peninsula, Cairo authorities have campaigned to shut down tunneling operations.

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