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Two killed as Gaza tunnels collapse

July 30, 2009 10:01 A.M. (Updated: July 31, 2009 2:30 P.M.)
Gaza – Ma’an – Two Palestinians died were killed on Wednesday night when two smuggling tunnels collapsed near Rafah Refugee Camp in the southern Gaza Strip, medics said.

According to medical sources at Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, a man named Amid Al-Aloul arrived dead at the facility after a tunnel collapsed.

Another man, Hassan Khamis Khadra, 43, from the city of Deir Al-Balah, also arrived dead at the hospital.

With these fatalities, 10 people have now been killed in the Gaza smuggling tunnels in about four days, fueling calls from human rights organizations for Israeli and Palestinian authorities to take action to prevent future accidents.

Smugglers maintain the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah to import goods made scarce by Israel’s two-year-long blockade of the coastal territory. According to the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, more than 100 people have been killed in the tunnel industry since it began.

“It should be noted that the tight siege imposed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Gaza Strip, which prevents the free movement of the commodities and humanitarian supplies, has driven the tunnel industry in Gaza, which has prospered in response to the sharp lack of essential goods in Gaza,” Al-Mezan said in a statement on Tuesday.

“As tunnels represent an inevitable alternative for society to attempt to deal with the impact of the Israeli siege, Al Mezan has expected that the Government in Gaza would monitor and regulate this industry; including by taking measures to protect the life, safety and wellbeing of those who work in it,” the statement said.

“Until this industry is abolished, the Government must ensure that all the necessary safety measures and equipment needed for quick rescue operations are in place,” it said.

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