Islamic terrorists have used smuggling tunnels to carry out dozens of attacks in the Sinai Peninsula in recent years.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Two Palestinians were killed Monday night and several others injured by inhaling poison gas in a smuggling tunnel that ran from the Gaza Strip into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Hamas’ Interior Ministry reported on the incident without specifying the source of the toxic gas. Some media reports say that Egyptian authorities pumped the poison into the tunnel.
The dead Palestinians were identified as 39-year-old Abdel Hamid al-Akker, a Hamas police officer, and 28-year-old civilian Subhi Abu Qarshin, who was possibly a digger. Al-Akker had been inspecting the tunnel when he was overcome by the fumes, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa, while Qarshin died during a rescue attempt.
Several other people were successfully extracted from the tunnel and brought to a hospital, where their condition was described as moderate.
Egypt has destroyed dozens of smuggling tunnels since Abdel al-Sisi’s reign as president began in 2013 and security cooperation was tightened with Israel. Some have been inundated with sea water, some collapsed with explosives, and at least one other was allegedly flooded with poison gas in 2017.
Cairo’s main concern with the tunnels into the Sinai is their use by Islamic terrorists who have been responsible for dozens of attacks there on government forces as well as on innocent civilians and tourists in recent years.
In 2014, members of the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis terror group pledged allegiance to ISIS and proclaimed that they were the Sinai Province of the extremist organization’s so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Hamas, which rules Gaza with an iron fist, was regularly accused of helping to train the Sinai ISIS terrorists as well as aiding them logistically, mainly via the underground routes they dig.
In June 2017, Egypt made an agreement with Hamas to supply the Strip with more electricity and open the Rafah Crossing in exchange for a buffer zone along their mutual border. By October, Egypt starting extending their side of the flattened area to 1500 meters in a renewed bid to stop the smuggling of arms and personnel to and from Gaza.