Gaza Tunnels Become a Lifeline
RAFAH, Apr 29 (IPS) – Pick-up trucks speed westward on the Barth highway that flanks the Israeli border in Egypt’s North Sinai region, stacked high with cartons of petrol. They are headed “for Gaza”, the Bedouin residents of Barth village say – through the tunnels that burrow under the Egypt-Gaza border and are filling Gaza’s aid gap in the aftermath of Israel’s deadly assault on the territory…
Smugglers in both Egypt and Gaza balk at the assertion that the tunnels have been used solely to arm Hamas, and maintain they have been a decisive factor in keeping Gaza’s battered economy alive, particularly in the post-war period when aid is the most crucial.
It was ironically before Hamas took the Gaza Strip that the majority of the tunnels were used to transport weapons, they say. Now, a Palestinian smuggler named Ahmed says, it is more lucrative for him to move bags of potato chips.
“Smuggling happens all over the world,” Ahmed told IPS. “But the real crime is when you see educated people – doctors, engineers, teachers – forced to do this type of work because they have nothing else.”
Smugglers admit that trade has slowed as a result of Israel’s firepower through the war, but that their work will continue as long as the siege is in place and Gaza’s residents are deprived of what they need.