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Two bodies found in collapsed Gaza tunnel

Egyptian army reportedly flooded the smuggling tunnel under the border

A smuggling tunnel on the Gaza-Egypt border (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)
A smuggling tunnel on the Gaza-Egypt border (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)

Palestinian rescue workers have discovered the bodies of two men in a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border that collapsed last week, while two others remain missing, Israel Radio reported.

Palestinians said the Egyptian army flooded the tunnel with water, leading to is collapse and the death of the two workers, the radio said.

The report did not say if the men belonged to the terrorist group Hamas, who rules the Gaza Strip, or to one of the numerous other armed factions that operate there.

The tunnel collapse is the latest in a series of cave-ins to claim Palestinian lives. Dozens of Palestinians, most of them reportedly members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, have been killed in collapses since the beginning of the year.

While many of the incidents have occurred along the Israel-Gaza border in tunnels purpose-built to launch attacks on the Jewish state, several tunnel collapses have also been reported on the Gaza-Egypt border, which Palestinians use primarily to smuggle goods into Gaza.

Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on September 18, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)
Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on September 18, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

Egypt has flooded dozens of tunnels along its border with Gaza, which it says have been used to launch attacks on its forces fighting an insurgency in the Sinai Province, against a local branch of the Islamic State.

While an Israeli blockade designed to keep weapons and other military infrastructure from entering the Strip severely restricts the movement of people and goods into and out of the territory, Egypt’s sole border with Gaza has also remained largely closed since 2013 over Egyptian claims that Hamas has supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai.

The destruction of the smuggling tunnels along the Egypt-Gaza border and the loss of revenue derived from their use have further increased the economic hardship in the Gaza Strip.

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