Hamas smuggling tunnel into Sinai (file)
Hamas smuggling tunnel into Sinai (file) Flash 90

A Palestinian Arab died on Monday when an illegal smuggling tunnel he was trying to restore collapsed near Gaza's border with Egypt, Palestinian medical and security sources said.

The death brings to 10 the number of Gazans killed in four separate tunnel collapses in the last two weeks, with the rest of them being Hamas terrorists trying to rebuild the attack tunnels breaching into Israel.

The man was killed "as a result of a collapse of a mass of sand" inside a tunnel previously used to smuggle goods, a security source said.

He had been trying to restore the damage caused by Egypt flooding the tunnel, the source added.

A medical source identified him as Mussa Jaber al-Maadi, 24 and from Rafah in southern Gaza.

Nine other Palestinians died in two unrelated tunnel collapses in the past two weeks, all of them members of the Al-Qassam Brigades - the "military wing" of the Hamas terrorist organization which controls Gaza.

In late 2014, Egypt began setting up a buffer zone on its border with Gaza, occupying a large swath of land in Gaza and destroying hundreds of tunnels used for smuggling weapons and other items.

In September 2015, Egyptian forces carried out digging work that Palestinians say led to the flooding of the last remaining tunnels there.

On Saturday Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said the tunnels were flooded by Egypt at Israel's request, before his office claimed the remarks were misinterpreted.

Israel maintains a naval blockade on Gaza to prevent the influx of weapons to the terrorists, while mass quantities of humanitarian goods pour in through its border crossings with Gaza. Egypt has kept its sole border crossing with Gaza largely closed since 2013.

Egypt has been busy destroying hundreds of tunnels used to smuggle people, goods and weapons between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.

AFP contributed to this report.

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