A member of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, was killed in Gaza on Saturday, after an underground tunnel collapsed on him.
According to a statement released by the Brigades, Anas Salameh Abu Lashin, from al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, was killed in the collapse, Ma’an News Agency reported.
A number of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the vast tunnel networks that lie below the besieged enclave. In April and May, Israeli forces claimed to have uncovered the first two tunnels crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israel since Israel’s devastating offensive on Gaza in 2014.
Israeli officials have accused Hamas of “preparing” for another war with Israel, and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole. However, the movement has not officially claimed responsibility for any military action from Gaza against Israel since the 2014 war.
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 — who have been trapped under Israeli siege for a decade — 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 of 2014, al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400.
The majority of the 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to the continuation of the military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.
The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past six years, including damage to the enclave’s water, sanitation, energy, and medical facilities, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.