Friday, November 6, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Tunnel Smuggling into Gaza Increases

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - The Middle East Newsline confirms that the Hamas regime has approved a huge increase in the number of smuggling tunnels from the Gaza Strip to neighboring Egypt.

Palestinian sources said tunnels that span the Gaza Strip to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula have more than doubled this year.

They cited the Israeli and Egyptian closure of their borders as well as increasing Gazan demand for consumer goods.

“We can get anything for anybody at almost any time,” a Palestinian source said.

The Hamas regime approved the sharp increase of tunnels in wake of the war with Israel in January. They said the number of tunnels skyrocketed from about 700 to 1,500 over the last eight months.

“Hamas directly controls about 100 tunnels and this supplies the government and security forces,” the Palestinian source said. “Whenever they need something fast, they turn to private tunnel operators.”

In August, tunnel operators began smuggling luxury cars from Egypt to Gaza. Over the last two months, the sources said, about 100 late model cars were dismantled in Egypt, transported through the tunnels in parts and reassembled in the Gaza Strip. The price per car was reported at $20,000.

Tunnels are a part of the smuggling industry, the largest industry in the Gaza Strip.

About 30,000 people are employed in the smuggling industry, with diggers earning about $30 day.

The number of tunnels discovered and destroyed by Egypt or Israel marked less than one percent of the smuggling network.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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