Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Tunnel collapse kills 2 smugglers on Gaza border | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Two tunnels used for smuggling goods from Egypt into Gaza collapsed on Saturday, killing two people and highlighting the risks Gazans take to defy an Israeli-led blockade of their territory.

The two victims were 18 and 20 years old, said Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, a Palestinian health official. Gaza smugglers operate dozens of underground tunnels to haul in everything from motorcycles and cement to cows and chocolates. Many goods are scarce since Israel and Egypt clamped a blockade on Gaza following the violent Hamas takeover of the territory in June 2007.

The local human rights group Mezan says 107 tunnel workers have died in accidents since then, most of them young men.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends next weekend, is a busy time for smugglers because of a heightened demand for consumer goods and foods. Israel and the West label Hamas a terrorist group, but the blockade has hit Gaza’s poor the hardest.

In other developments, Egypt opened its border crossing with Gaza on Saturday to allow hundreds of Muslim pilgrims to travel to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Hamas officials said the crossing is to remain open for four days.