A Hamas security official in charge of the tunnel area along the border said the Egyptians filled the passage with some type of crowd dispersal gas. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his name.The terrorist group Hamas has their hands in every aspect of Gazan life, and the smuggling tunnels are an important revenue source for the terror group. So, when Egypt goes and eliminates a tunnel and its occupants, Hamas has reason to complain. They also have reason to exaggerate the situation so as to put pressure on Egypt to stop taking actions necessary to stop the flow of illegal goods between Sinai and Gaza, including weapons and materials needed to make weapons.
The Hamas Interior Ministry later said in a statement the gas used to try to clear the tunnel was poisonous. Besides those killed, six people were injured, it said.
"The Interior Ministry confirms that the citizens' cause of death was the Egyptian security forces spraying poison gasses into one of the tunnels," the statement said without elaborating.
A doctor at a hospital in the Gaza border town of Rafah, Hamdan Abu Latifa, said the dead smugglers suffocated.
An Egyptian border security official refused to comment Wednesday.
Egypt has been building an underground barrier in an attempt to stop the construction of the smuggling tunnels.
Hamas had previously blown up the above-ground border fence and invaded Sinai, which took several days before Egyptian forces could regain control over the border.