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  • Egypt has actively cracked down on tunnels found along the border since 2013.

    Egypt has actively cracked down on tunnels found along the border since 2013. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 February 2019

A Palestinian official said that one of the men, a security forces officer was on “a security mission to inspect the tunnel.”

Two people died Sunday after inhaling poisonous gas inside of a tunnel along the Egypt-Gaza Strip border, a Palestinian official said.

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A Hamas security forces officer and a Palestinian civilian died late Sunday, said Iyad al-Bozm, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza, in a statement Monday.

Wafa news reported that the two men were 39-year-old Hamas officer, Abdul Hamid al-Aker, and 28-year-old Sobhi Abu Qarshin. Abu Qarshin was said to have died during a rescue attempt.

Bozm, whose ministry is headed by the Hamas group, said that the officer was on “a security mission to inspect the tunnel,” but did not state why the civilian had been present.

While he did not comment on the origin of the noxious gas, a Palestinian security source said the Egyptian military has used gas to prevent anyone from using illegal tunnels found along the border.

The Egyptian military began cracking down on tunnels between Gaza and Egypt since the country’s September 2013 military coup, which saw the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi ousted and imprisoned, Jerusalem Post reported.

In February 2017, three Palestinians died from inhaling toxic gas in a tunnel between Egypt and Gaza, which they were repairing after the Egyptian military blew it up, Palestinian authorities said at the time.

Bozm said that the members of the Hamas-run Civil Defense extracted the two bodies from the tunnel. He also said that two other members of the security forces were rescued and transferred to a local hospital for treatment, but did not state if they were in the tunnel or who saved them.

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