June 15, 2010 - 12:00am

A Palestinian worker was killed Tuesday in a tunnel cave-in beneath Gaza's southern borders with Egypt, witnesses said. Witnesses in the scene said a 22-year-old smuggler was buried alive in a tunnel collapse accident. His body was dug out a few hours later.

On Sunday, a 17-year-old smuggler died instantly in a power shock while working in one of the tunnels that snake under the Gaza-Egypt borderline.

Palestinian rights groups say at least 150 Palestinians have been killed in tunnel cave-ins and sporadic tunnel accidents.

Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory led the Palestinians in Gaza to use tunnels to bring in goods, food stuff and fuel.

However, Israel says Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the enclave since 2007, uses the underground passageways to smuggle weapons that are meant to be used against the Jewish state.

In another incident, Israeli troops, backed by tanks and bulldozers, crossed the fence separating the Gaza Strip on early Tuesday and razed large tracts of agricultural lands east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, according to witnesses.

Witnesses in the area told Xinhua the Israeli troops withdrew after they finished flattening the fields.

Israeli troops advance frequently into the shred adjacent to the border fence alongside the Gaza Strip where they enforce a 300-meter-wide buffer zone to deter Gaza militants from launching rockets or carry out military operations against troops patrolling the area.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers arrested 14 Palestinians in West bank cities of Qalqilya, Jenin, Nablus and Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem, according to Palestinian police sources.

The Palestinians were arrested during search operations the Israeli army carries out in the West Bank regularly, a spokesperson for the Palestinian police in Ramallah said.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) says Israel's operations in West Bank cities do not help the Palestinian security forces tighten their grip on the security situation in the settlement-dotted territory.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017