Hamas fighter killed in Gaza tunnel

Hamas fighter killed in Gaza tunnel

Circumstances surrounding death of member of terror group’s armed wing unclear

Tunnel workers taking time off to pray on the Gaza side of Rafah. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)
Tunnel workers taking time off to pray on the Gaza side of Rafah. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

A member of the Hamas terror group was killed while working on a tunnel in the Gaza Strip, the organization said Wednesday.

The group said Mahmoud Hay al-Safadi, 31, died while at work on a “resistance tunnel.” It did not say how he was killed or where the tunnel was located.

Safadi, from Gaza City, was a member of the group’s armed Qassam brigades wing. Hamas is the de facto ruler of Gaza.

Hamas did not blame Israel for the death, indicating Safadi may have been killed in some sort of underground accident. No other injuries were reported, and there was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Israel has been working to thwart a network of tunnels dug under the Gaza border and meant to be used for attacks in Israeli territory, according to military officials. The country has been building what it calls a subterranean barrier meant to block the tunnels, and has also worked to discover and destroy them using bombs and other unspecified means.

In November, Israel destroyed a tunnel, killing several members of the Islamic Jihad terror group inside, and sparking increased tensions.

Israeli and American officials have slammed Hamas for spending resources on building tunnels rather than addressing the humanitarian crisis in the Strip, which is largely blockaded by Israel and Egypt.

Israel says it needs to tightly control goods and people entering and exiting the territory to keep Hamas and other terror groups from using the materials to build up defenses and an arms cache.

Hamas has been working since 2014 to rebuild a network of tunnels both under the border and inside the Strip destroyed by Israel in a war that year.

Dov Lieber contributed to this report.

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