2 Palestinians reported killed after Egypt pumps toxic gas into Hamas tunnel

Two Palestinians were killed and two others injured after Egyptian troops pumped toxic fumes into a smuggling tunnel in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night, according to the Hamas-run Interior Ministry of Gaza.

One of the victims was a 39-year-old officer with Hamas’ police force who was in the tunnel on a “security mission” to inspect it, the ministry’s information office said. A 28-year-old man was killed in the ensuing rescue mission.

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Two other security officers were taken to hospital for treatment.

The Egyptian military hasn’t commented on the alleged incident.

Egypt has ramped up operations to destroy tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to the Sinai Peninsula in recent years.

In January, the country’s military announced that it destroyed 37 tunnels in 2018. It destroyed nearly 2,000 tunnels between January 2011 and December 2015, according to a report by the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy in Israel.

Three Palestinians died after inhaling toxic gas in a tunnel in February 2017, Palestinian authorities said at the time.

The Egypt – Gaza border is seen in Gaza City, Gaza on Feb. 25, 2017

Also on Sunday night, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian teenagers during protests at the Gaza border, Palestinian health officials said.

The Israeli military said it had no choice but to open fire after rocks and explosive devices were thrown over the border fence.

Gaza is home to some 2-million Palestinians, most of whom are the stateless descendants of people who fled or were driven out of Israel upon its founding in 1948.

Israel and Egypt imposed a security blockade on Gaza after Hamas took control of it in 2007, which the World Bank says has reduced the local economy to a state of collapse.

— With files from Reuters

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