Gazans expect Israeli siege halt amid new tunnel collapse deaths 2009-08-28 21:30:44   Print

    GAZA, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Gaza Strip residents on Friday expressed resentment after three people died in a smuggling tunnel collapse under the borderline between the Hamas-ruled enclave and Egypt.

    "This is unreasonable and unbelievable. Every week, or every few days we hear about tunnels that collapsed and people are killed. There has to be a solution to put an end to these disasters," said Abdel Fatah Abu Jazzar, a resident of Rafah Town.

    Gaza emergency chief Mo'aweya Hassanein told reporters that three people of the same family were killed early Friday in an underground smuggling tunnel that collapsed in southern Gaza town of Rafah.

    Witnesses in Rafah said the tunnel collapsed after an underground sewage pipe blew up, adding two were pulled out dead and that one who was critically wounded died later in the hospital.

    Rescue workers pulled out three more workers who could hardly breathe and sent them to the hospital. Searching is still going onfor the missing, according to the witnesses.

    Omer Sha'ban, a Gaza-based economist said the tunnels collapsed when workers were transporting boxes of goods from the Egyptian territories into the blockaded Gaza Strip beneath the border.

    Sha'ban told Xinhua that the only solution to this crisis is to open the commercial crossings between Gaza and Israel permanently, adding that "If workers work legally at border crossings, we can for sure avoid these fatalities."

    The Gaza-based al-Mizan Human Rights group said since June 2007, 120 Palestinians have died from suffocation or burning in tunnels dug under the borderline between Gaza and Egypt.

    "Since the beginning of 2009, 60 people so far have been killed," said the group in a statement. Three brothers of the same family were killed on Wednesday in a tunnel after Israeli war jets struck the borderline area.

    The Israeli attack was a reaction to mortars fired from Gaza at Israel on Tuesday, when an Israeli soldier was lightly injured. Israel and Egypt have destroyed hundreds of tunnels, but still many are operative.

    The rights group warned that if the authorities, referring to Hamas movement that has been ruling the Gaza Strip since its takeover in June 2007, "must put an end to these disasters and save the souls of the people."

    After Hamas grasped control of the Gaza Strip, Israel tightened its blockade and closed all commercial crossings on its borders with the impoverished enclave.

    The Gazans have then dug thousands of tunnels to bring in a wide array of products that have been in shortage in Gaza home to some 1.5 million residents due to the Israeli siege.

Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts         

Editor: Deng Shasha
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