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Hamas field officer dies in Gaza tunnel accident

March 14, 2016 3:39 P.M. (Updated: March 14, 2016 5:48 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- A Hamas field commander died on Monday in a tunnel accident in the Gaza Strip, the group said in a statement.

The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, said in a statement that Abd al-Salah al-Butnaji died while he was working in a tunnel in Gaza.

Al-Butnaji, 36, was from the al-Shujayya neighborhood of Gaza City, the statement added.

The al-Qassam Brigades did not give further details on the circumstances behind his death.

On Saturday, the Gaza Strip’s civil defense found the bodies of two Palestinians workers in a tunnel which had been flooded by Egypt three days earlier.

Palestinians in Gaza have relied on underground smuggling tunnels across the Egyptian border since 2007 when Israel imposed a military blockade on the coastal enclave after Hamas took control there.

The tunnels have since provided a vital lifeline for the besieged territory's more than 1.8 million residents.

However, Egypt has destroyed and flooded hundreds of the tunnels as part of an ongoing security campaign in the northern Sinai Peninsula against anti-regime militants launching attacks on Egyptian police and military personnel.

Egypt accuses Hamas of supporting the insurgents, allegations Hamas strongly denies.

The UN reported in February that only a few tunnels remained partially operational between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
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