Two Palestinians die after 'Egypt pumps toxic gas' into Gaza tunnel

Two Palestinians die after 'Egypt pumps toxic gas' into Gaza tunnel
There are claims Egypt filled a cross-border tunnel with poisonous gazes, killing two Palestinians in Gaza.
2 min read
11 February, 2019
The body of policeman al-Ekar, who suffocated in a Gazan cross-border tunnel [AFP/Getty Images]

Two Palestinians died inside a cross-border tunnel in Rafah, Gaza on Monday, media have reported, after they were allegedly exposed to toxic gases and suffocated.

An official statement quoted by i24news has confirmed the death of police officer Major Abed al-Hamid al-Aker, aged-39, and Subhi Saqer Abu Qirshein, a 28-year-old civilian, saying they suffocated following toxic gases.

Palestinian civil defence teams managed to rescue two more people from the tunnel, the purpose of which was said to be 'commercial' by the Gaza's interior ministry.

According to Iyad al-Buzm, the ministry spokesperson, al-Aker was on a security mission to inspect a border tunnel in the south of the Gaza strip.

Palestinian news outlets claim Egyptian troops pumped toxic gas inside the tunnel. The Egyptian army has not commented on the report. 

There are believed to be numerous smuggling tunnels in the south of Gaza, while are often the only portal into the land strip for vital goods such as food and medicine.

Fisheye shot of cross-border tunnel running from Israel to Gaza
Fisheye lens shot of cross-border Gaza-Israel tunnel [AFP/Getty images] 

Egypt and Israel continue to maintain a crippling blockade on the coastal Palestinian enclave by tightly two entry points for goods.

Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power, Egypt has cracked down on smuggling into Gaza and flooded hundreds of tunnels. The Egyptian army has said it destroyed 37 cross border tunnels in 2018.

This, along with the buffer zone on the Gaza-Sinai border, make up Egyptian efforts to secure the tumultuous northern Sinai Peninsula, where there have been clashes between the army and militant groups.

The UN has warned that Gaza would be "unliveable" by 2020 due to the blockade, which began after Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007.