(AP) GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – A tunnel filled with explosives detonated Sunday under the Israeli checkpoint on the Gaza-Egypt border near the town of Rafah, causing casualties, military officials said.
The officials did not give details on the number of casualties. The Israeli rescue service ZAKA said three people were seriously wounded. Israel Radio said seven people were being treated at the scene.
A Palestinian militant giving his name only as Abu Majad claimed gunmen attacked the Israeli position after the blast. He claimed responsibility in the name of the Fatah Hawks, an offshoot of the mainstream Fatah Party, and the Islamic Hamas militant group.
A Hamas official said 1.5 tons of explosives were set off in the blast.
Abu Majad said the explosives-filled tunnel was 250 yards long. He said the attack was retaliation for what he called “the assassination” of Yasser Arafat, who died Nov. 11 in a French hospital. Some Palestinians charge he was poisoned by Israel.
Palestinians have dug many tunnels in the Rafah area, most of them under the border to be used for smuggling weapons and contraband in from Egypt. Several times during four years of conflict, Palestinian militants have dug tunnels under Israeli bases in Gaza and detonated explosives.
Palestinians in the area said they heard a loud explosion followed by machine gun fire. They said Israeli vehicles were rushing to the scene.