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Three cousins die in Gaza tunnel collapse

30 September 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza

Shortly after 5:00 pm on Sunday, September 25, three Palestinians died when sewage leaking from an Egyptian pipeline caused a tunnel connecting the Egyptian and Palestinian sides of the Rafah border, in which they were working, to collapse.

It was the second time that the pipeline, which pumps sewage east into the Sinai, had sprung a leak in the area.

The three, all cousins, lived in the south of the Gaza Strip. Feras Ahmed Al-Shaer, 18 years old, lived in Khan Younis with his parents, one brother, and seven sisters. He was completing his last year of high school. Fady Mostafa Al-Shaer, also 18, lived in Rafah with his parents, four brothers, and two sisters. He had decided to work in the tunnels to help support his family, which lived in two rooms. Anwer Eid Al-Shaer, age 22, lived in Rafah and needed money to finish his final year of studies at Al-Quds Open University.

After the collapse, other tunnels workers were able to escape to the Palestinian side. The bodies of the three Al-Shaer cousins, who had been closest to the Egyptian side, lay in rubble and sewage for two days until Egyptian rescue workers were able to excavate them at 5:00 am Tuesday.

Mohammed Abu Al-Shaer, the cousins’ uncle, spoke of the helpfulness of Egyptian authorities and said that the Al-Shaer family had brought oil to fuel the rescue workers’ lights.

“We hope that this siege will end soon, so others won’t be forced to take similar risks in the tunnels. We want to live like people everywhere else,” he said.