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Two Palestinians suffocate to death inside Gaza tunnel

Feb. 11, 2019 11:38 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2019 10:09 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians suffocated to death while several others were injured inside a tunnel under the southern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip, on Monday.

Spokesperson of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in Gaza, Iyad al-Buzm, confirmed in a statement that Major Abed al-Hamid al-Aker, 39, and Subhi Saqer Abu Qirshein, 28, have suffocated to death inside the tunnel after inhaling unknown poisonous gases.

Palestinian Civil Defense teams were able to pull out the two bodies from inside the tunnel, several hours later.

Two other security officers were rescued and transferred for treatment.

While the tunnels along the southern border with Egypt are used by Hamas as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons, they also supply highly demanded necessities for Gazans -- who have been trapped under Israeli siege for a decade -- including food, medicine, and much-needed infrastructure materials.

Before the July 2013 ouster of Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi, tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip to Egypt had provided a vital lifeline for the small Palestinian territory.

Since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi came to power, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade 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.

The majority of the nearly two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to the continuation of the military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.

The destruction from three Israeli offensives since 2008, including damage to the enclave’s water, sanitation, energy, and medical facilities, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade, led the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
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