Hamas Commander Dies in Another Tunnel Collapse

A tunnel near the Israeli border in eastern Gaza caved in on Monday, killing a Hamas commander who was working inside, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.

Hamas officials identified the man as Al-Salam Al-Batniji, 36, and described the collapse of the underground passageway, which is located in the Shujaiyyeh neighborhood, as a “work accident.”

Al-Batniji is the latest Hamas terrorist to die after one of the group’s tunnels caved in. The body of a Gazan man was found in the wake of a Thursday tunnel collapse, while at least a dozen Gazans have been killed in collapses since January 26, according to Agence France-Presse.

Israeli officials indicated last week that the tunnels were likely collapsing because Hamas was building them in sandy earth without proper reinforcements.

Israel has reportedly been working on countermeasures to the tunnels, including a secretive system dubbed “The Obstacle,” which may include acoustic sensors to detect underground digging. Hamas has suggested that Israel is behind the collapses, and their frequency has caused many Hamas fighters to be frightened of entering tunnels.

Hamas used tunnels to attack Israeli communities and bases along the Gaza border several times during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. While Israel uncovered and destroyed 32 tunnels throughout the conflict, Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel reported in January that Hamas currently has nearly the same number of tunnels that it did before the war. The terror group devoted significant resources during the past year and a half to rebuilding its terror infrastructure at the expense of civilian needs.

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