USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Al Jazeera: Tunnels feed besieged Gaza

Posted by uscsjp on October 5, 2008

About 6,000 Palestinians are said to be engaged in smuggling through the tunnels [EPA]

“Hundreds of tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt are keeping many of the Palestinian territory’s 1.5 million impoverished residents supplied with food and fuel.

On Saturday, Egyptian authorities found the entrances of three tunnels and confiscated a large amount of fuel about to be smuggled into the territory.

Sources say there are more than 6,000 Palestinians employed in the clandestine industry, which merchants say is heavily controlled by the Hamas authorities.

Strict rules are imposed on what can be brought in – weapons, drugs and people-trafficking are prohibited – and tunnel operators are taxed.

Ehab Gheissen, a spokesman for the interior ministry in the deposed Hamas-led government, said: ‘It is the right of the Palestinian people to do whatever they can to break the siege they live under. They have a right to do whatever they can to get what they need, including through tunnels, but at the same time we are watching all of the things that are being brought in.’

The tunnels were previously used to smuggle weapons to fight the Israeli occupation, but the blockade that was enforced after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 has made the smuggling of basic supplies a necessity.

Shortages have sent prices of flour and milk soaring, and the industry established around the tunnel smuggling system is now worth millions of dollars.

Sami Abdel Shafi, a Gaza-based business analyst, said: “These days, most of the anecdotal evidence we hear is that the tunnels are being used to bring in very human items, for lack of proper medicine in the Gaza Strip…”

–Al Jazeera English, Oct 5, 2008

For more on the current situation in Gaza, check out Abdelfattah Abusrour’s piece in The Electronic Intifada’s Live from Palestine series, Oct 2, 2008:


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