Two Palestinians died Monday in a cross-border tunnel between Gaza and Egypt when Egyptian officials pumped a toxic gas into the chamber. Hundreds of such tunnels have been dug by Palestinians to circumvent Israel’s 12-year-long blockade of Gaza. Gazan officials says they’re smuggling tunnels, but israel says they’re for terrorist operations.
When the Egyptian officials began pumping an unknown toxic gas into the tunnel overnight, three Palestinian tunnel workers signaled for help. Responding were 39-year-old Hamas officer Abdul Hamid al-Aker, who went inside to “security mission to inspect the tunnel, along with 28-year-old Sobhi Abu Qarshin, a civilian, Palestine’s Wafa News Agency reported Monday.
Both men perished, but the remaining security personnel were rescued by civil defense teams and rushed to the hospital, where their condition was described as “moderate” by Wafa.
Akar and Qarshin’s bodies were retrieved “after a great effort that lasted several hours,” Iyad al-Bozum, a spokesperson for the Gaza government, told al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera couldn’t reach the Egyptian military for a comment.
In January, the Egyptian military announced it had destroyed 37 such tunnels in the past year, the Jerusalem Post reported. Hundreds of such tunnels have been built since israel imposed a blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Hamas won elections there.
The tunnels have been used to smuggle goods…