Being trapped inside a collapsed tunnel for nearly two weeks, twenty-three fighters from the Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, have managed to escape almost certain death.
"The 23 fighters had survived almost certain death when a tunnel collapsed at the beginning of the Israeli ground assault," the Brigades said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement said that the Hamas fighters had entered the tunnel in preparation for an attack against Israeli troops.
A.S., a Hamas fighter who had survived the tunnel collapse, said that the tunnel had collapsed when Israeli planes struck al-Qarara district in southern Gaza Strip with missiles.
"We lost contacts with our colleagues," he said.
Hamas commander W. A. said the fighters were found inside the tunnel when a three-day ceasefire came into force on Tuesday.
"Rescue teams dug the area to extract the mujahideen (fighters) and they were surprised to find us alive," he said.
Israel and Palestinian factions are observing an Egyptian-brokered three-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip since Tuesday.
Israel has since completely withdrawn its forces from the besieged Palestinian enclave.
The two sides are currently in Cairo for indirect talks on a durable ceasefire agreement.
At least 1867 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 9500 others injured in relentless Israeli attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip since July 7, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Israel has also confirmed that 64 soldiers had been killed in battles with Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip and three civilians by rocket fire.
By Ola Attalah