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Islamic Jihad fighter killed, 2 injured in tunnel collapse east of Khan Younis

July 19, 2016 12:10 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2016 4:50 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian fighter affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement was killed and two others were injured inside a tunnel which collapsed on Monday night underneath Israel's southern border with the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Islamic Jihad movement said in a statement that one of its fighters “died [as a] martyr during a Jihad mission” during the tunnel collapse, without giving more details.

The statement identified the “fighter” as Salih Muhammad al-Astal from al-Qarara, north of the city of Khan Yunis city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Local medical sources in Gaza confirmed that two other fighters were injured in the same tunnel collapse.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported earlier that the injured and deceased were evacuated to Nasser Hospital in the city.

Al-Astal's death marks the second death of an Islamic Jihad fighter as a result of a tunnel collapse this month.

A number of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the vast tunnel networks that lie below the besieged enclave, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave's south and military purposes in the north.

The Hamas movement which governs the blockaded Palestinian territory has been allegedly reconstructing a vast tunnel network intended to be used for carrying out attacks on Israeli military targets and civilians, swathes of which were destroyed during Israel's brutal offensive on Gaza in 2014.

While the tunnels are used by Hamas as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons from the south, they also supply highly-demanded necessities for Gazans including food, medicine, and much-needed infrastructure materials.

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.
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