The spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Interior and National Security, Iyad al-Bozum, said in a statement on Monday that 39-year-old Major Abdul Hamid al-Akar and Sobhi Abu Qershein, 28, “suffocated to death inside the tunnel after inhaling unknown poisonous gases”, Presstv Reported.
The statement added that Palestinian civil defense teams were able to retrieve the bodies of the two Palestinians “after a great deal of efforts that lasted several hours,” noting that the pair had lost their lives “while trying to rescue Palestinians who had been trapped in the tunnel.”
Two other security officers were rescued and taken to hospital for treatment, Bozum pointed out.
The statement, however, did not provide further details about the details of the deaths.
A Palestinian security source, requesting anonymity, said the Egyptian military used gas to halt the use of lifeline cross-border tunnels under the southern sector of the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian army could not be reached for comment.
The report comes as Palestinians have been holding weekly rallies on the Gaza border to protest the 12-year siege on the enclave and reaffirm the right of refugees to return to their homes they were forcibly expelled from during the 1948 creation of Israel.
More than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. Over 26,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14 last year, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
On June 13, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning the Israeli regime for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with eight votes against and 45 abstentions.
The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”
It also called for “immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip.”