Gazan Arabs smuggle cement through tunnels
Gazan Arabs smuggle cement through tunnels Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Four Arab smugglers have been found dead in a smuggling tunnel linking Gaza to Egypt's
Sinai Peninsula, local officials said Sunday, accusing the Egyptian military of flooding it.

The four men aged 22 to 45 "were found dead after the tunnel they were working in was flooded nine days ago by the Egyptian army," local authorities in the Gazan city of Rafah near Egypt's border said in a statement.

Egypt had not confirmed the information, though it has destroyed hundreds of tunnels in the area, alleging they are used to transport arms and terrorists.

Hamas and other groups use such tunnels to smuggle goods into Gaza, as well as to transfer terrorists undetected to neighboring Israeli or Egyptian-controlled areas.

The border between Egypt and Gaza has remained largely closed since the 2013 overthrow of Egyptian Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

While the tunnels into Egypt have been used for smuggling, terror tunnels into Israel have been used for attacks, particularly during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014.

Hamas alleges Egypt has carried out work to flood the area along its border to destroy tunnels into the Sinai, where Egyptian security forces are also fighting Islamic State-linked jihadists.

In recent months, at least 20 smugglers and terrorists have died in both terror and smuggling tunnels in the strip of some two million people. A number of terror tunnels have collapsed in recent months.