Amid growing reports of Hamas rebuilding its subterranean infrastructure, the terrorist group on Saturday announced that one of its members was killed while digging a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip.
Nihad Khalif, 30, of the town of Beit Lahiya, died when a tunnel collapsed near the border with Israel, the group’s armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said on social media.
The report of the fighter’s death came amid sustained efforts by Hamas to rebuild its offensive capabilities against Israel, including the conscription of new fighters, rehabilitating its cross-border attack tunnels, and restocking its rocket arsenal with longer-distance rockets.
According to a Times of Israel report in April, Hamas has begun using heavy machinery and engineering tools to accelerate the excavation of attack tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip under the Israeli border. The equipment, sources in the Palestinian enclave said, includes small bulldozers with the ability to maneuver in tight spaces.
The Qassam Brigades shared a photo of the dead man on Twitter, and hailed him as a martyr.
Earlier in the day, Islamic Jihad said one of its operatives was killed during operations in the northern Gaza Strip.
Gaza-based media also reported Saturday that a senior member of an armed group in the Palestinian enclave was convicted of collaboration with Israel and summarily executed in Khan Younis.
The 49-year-old man was arrested two months ago and confessed to passing information to the IDF during last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip, Channel 2 cited Palestinian reports saying.