By Hani al-Shaer
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Three Palestinian workers were killed inside a collapsed cross-border tunnel linking Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to Gaza’s civil defense authority.
The three died after inhaling toxic gas inside the tunnel, the agency said in a statement on Saturday.
The bodies were recovered Saturday and sent to a hospital in the city of Rafah.
A Palestinian security source said Friday four workers had gone missing and ten others suffered suffocation after inhaling toxic gas while repairing a tunnel destroyed by the Egyptian army.
There was no comment from the Egyptian side on the claim.
Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which has governed the blockaded strip since 2007, denounced Cairo’s handling of the tunnels between Gaza Strip and northern Sinai.
“The killing of the three while they were working to secure living for their families is a tragic incident,” Hamas said in a written statement.
“There is no justification for the Egyptian dangerous practices in dealing with the inhabitants of the besieged Gaza Strip," it added.
Hamas reiterated its call on Egyptian authorities to permanently open the Rafah border crossing to end the suffering of the Gaza Strip.
Reeling from a decade-long blockade by Israel, the Gaza Strip’s roughly 2 million inhabitants have come to rely on the cross-border tunnel network for the import of badly-needed commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
Since Egypt’s 2013 military coup against President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, the Egyptian authorities have cracked down on the network of border tunnels.
In recent months, the Egyptian army has been methodically flooding the network of cross-border tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
In 2014, Egypt began building a "buffer zone" along its border with Gaza following a spate of militant attacks on Egyptian security forces.