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Official: 3 Gazans missing as Egypt blows up border tunnel

Oct. 13, 2015 2:15 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 13, 2015 5:46 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Three Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were reported missing on Sunday after the Egyptian army blew up a smuggling tunnel, Gaza's Civil Defense told Ma'an.

Raed al-Dahshan, the director of Civil Defense operations in Gaza, told Ma'an that he believed the tunnel near Rafah had collapsed after Egyptian forces blew it up.

He said that the Civil Defense was evacuating people from the area, and was working to prevent these kinds of explosions from taking place in the future.

Smuggling tunnels that pass beneath the Egyptian border have served as a lifeline to the outside world for Gaza's 1.8 million inhabitants since Israel imposed a crippling siege on the coastal enclave in 2007, which is supported by Egypt.

However, the tunnel networks are notoriously dangerous.

The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, Al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400.

While the southern tunnels are used by Hamas as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons, they also supply highly-demanded necessities for Gaza's residents under the blockade, including food, medicine, as well as infrastructure materials including concrete and fuel.
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