Two Hamas terrorists were killed and a number of others were injured on Monday after toxic gas was pumped by Egyptian forces into a smugglers’ tunnel stretching under the southern Gaza border into the Sinai Peninsula.
The Gaza Interior Ministry said 39-year-old Hamas officer Abdul Hamid al-Aker “suffocated to death inside the tunnel after inhaling unknown gases” after he entered to inspect the tunnel. Sobhi Abu Qarshin, 28, was killed during a rescue attempt.
According to the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA news agency, several others also began choking during a search and rescue operation as well; they were taken to a hospital where they were described in fair condition.
It’s not clear what type of toxic gas was used by the Egyptian military personnel. But it’s not the first time that Egypt has employed this method of stopping Hamas terrorists from using cross-border tunnels to smuggle terrorists, arms, drugs and other contraband between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza.
Egyptian military officials have also ordered personnel to flood Hamas cross-border tunnels with sea water. Occasionally unwary tunnel diggers have been caught in subsequent collapses as a result.
Egypt announced at the start of 2019 that 37 cross-border Hamas tunnels linking Gaza with the Sinai Peninsula were destroyed in 2018.