Hamas on Monday blasted the Egyptian authorities for recently flooding several cross-border tunnels linking Egypt to the Gaza Strip after the bodies of four Palestinian workers were recovered from the flooded tunnels.

The Palestinian resistance group, which has governed the blockaded strip since 2007, described the dead workers as “martyrs”, saying they had died as a direct result of the Egyptian regime’s decision last week to flood the cross-border tunnels with seawater.

“We condemn this tragic incident,” Hamas said in a statement. “There is no justification for resorting to such dangerous methods when dealing with the besieged people of Gaza.”

Hamas went on to urge the Egyptian authorities to open the Egypt-Gaza border on a permanent basis.

The bodies of four Palestinian workers — who went missing last week — were recovered on Sunday from a cross-border tunnel that collapsed after being flooded with seawater by the Egyptian authorities.

In recent months, the Egyptian army has been methodically flooding the network of cross-border tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Reeling from a decade-long blockade by Israel, the Gaza Strip’s roughly 2 million inhabitants have come to rely on the cross-border tunnel network for the import of badly-needed commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.

Since Egypt’s 2013 military coup against President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, the Egyptian authorities have cracked down on the network of border tunnels.

On Saturday, the Egyptian army said it had destroyed seven cross-border tunnels last month alone.

In 2014, Egypt began building a “buffer zone” along its border with Gaza following a spate of militant attacks on Egyptian security forces.

*Reporting by Ola Atallah; Writing by Ali Abo Rezeg

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