Eight Hamas members ‘missing’ after Gaza tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY - Eight members of the militant group Hamas were missing Wednesday after the collapse of a tunnel in the Gaza Strip caused by rain and flooding, a security source said.
The tunnel collapsed overnight in the area of Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian enclave after several days of rainfall, the security source in the area said on condition of anonymity.
"The resistance tunnel collapsed last night due to the weather and flooding," the source said, adding that the tunnel belonged to Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
"There were 11 resistance men inside. Three of them escaped in the first hour after the accident, but the security operation... continues to search for the eight others."
Such collapses have previously occurred in the coastal strip, which is under an Israeli blockade and has seen three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.
On Saturday, a tunnel collapse killed a 30-year-old man, according to Hamas officials. Residents said the tunnel was located in Al-Maghazi in the central Gaza Strip.
In December, 14 Palestinians were rescued after being stranded for hours in a tunnel near the Egyptian border when it flooded and partially collapsed.
During a 50-day conflict in 2014, Israeli warplanes destroyed a large part of the underground network of tunnels used by Gazans.
At the end of 2014, Egypt began the construction of a buffer zone in the northern Sinai Peninsula, on the border with Gaza, including destroying hundreds of tunnels it says are used for smuggling weapons.
Hamas has reportedly rebuilt tunnels destroyed in the 2014 conflict that Israeli officials say could be used to carry out attacks.
Israel's blockade severely restricts the movement of people and goods into and out of the enclave.
Egypt's sole border with Gaza has also remained largely closed following the 2013 overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, effectively trapping the 1.8 million Gazans into the territory.