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Medics: 3 Palestinians die in Rafah smuggling tunnel

Sept. 27, 2011 12:16 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 28, 2011 7:09 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Three Palestinians were pronounced dead on Tuesday morning after Egyptian authorities pumped sewage inside a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza border on Sunday.

The ambulance and emergency services committee in Gaza said the three victims were found alive inside the tunnel. They were evacuated to the Abu Yousef an-Najjar Hospital in Rafah but were pronounced dead 30 minutes after arrival.

Gaza medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya identified the victims as Fadi Mustafa Ash-Shaer, 20, Firas Ahmad, 18, and Anwar Abu Aradeh, 25.

They were all residents of al-Salam neighborhood in Rafah in southern Gaza, Abu Salmiya said.

Medics had said Sunday that one man was injured and two others were missing after Egyptian authorities pumped sewage inside a Rafah smuggling tunnel running underneath the border with the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian security officials said in early September that they were cracking down on the network of tunnels used by smugglers from the coastal enclave.

Including Tuesday's victims, eight Palestinians have been killed while working in tunnels in September. Five Palestinians were killed in three separate tunnel collapses earlier this month.

Medics say over 160 Palestinians have died in the network of underground tunnels since Israel imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip in 2006.

Under Israel's crippling blockade, the tunnels have provided a lifeline for residents of the coastal enclave.

Egypt opened the Rafah crossing in May, the only border terminal not controlled by Israel.

The opening allowed some residents to leave the coastal enclave for the first time in years, but the terminal is not equipped for the transfer of goods and it has had little impact on Israel's siege.
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