Gaza tunnel collapse kills two Hamas members

Published February 3rd, 2016 - 08:57 GMT

Two Hamas fighters were killed in a tunnel collapse in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday night, just one week after seven other fighters were killed in a tunnel collapse in northern Gaza.

In a statement, Hamas' military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, identified the fighters as 35-year-old Fouad Ashor al-Etewi and 23-year-old Ahmad Haidar al-Zahhar from al-Nusirat refugee camp.

The statement added that the tunnel "belonged to resistance," without providing further details.

Israeli forces on Wednesday morning reportedly crossed the Gazan border east of Khan Younis, advancing 100 meters into the blockaded coastal enclave where a bulldozers "leveled" land.

Locals said the soldiers were destroying tunnels. An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into the reports.

On Tuesday last week, seven Hamas fighters were killed when a tunnel they were rebuilding in the northern Gaza Strip reportedly collapsed due to heavy rain.

Gaza's tunnel networks, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave's south and military purposes in the north, are notoriously dangerous.

The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400.

While the tunnels are used by Hamas as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons, they also supply highly-demanded necessities for Gaza's 1.8 million residents under the blockade, including food, medicine, as well as infrastructure materials like concrete and fuel.

Hamas claims to have rebuilt many of the tunnels that were destroyed during 2014's devastating war with Israel. Last week, the Israeli authorities threatened to seal crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip due to recent Hamas activity.

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