Thursday, January 22, 2009

And the tunnels are rebuilt

Just a few days after the cease-fire and already the tunnels are being rebuilt between Egypt and Gaza. The tunnels began sprouting like Saudi princes after Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip and Egypt followed suit (remember: it takes two to tango). Though it appears that most of the goods moving from Egypt to Gaza through the tunnels are commercial, there does seem to have been weapons smuggling.

Though Israel supposedly went to war partially to destroy the tunnels (and destroy them they did), they must realize that they don't actually want the smuggling to come to an end. If the tunnels supply even close to 90% of the imports into Gaza as some claim, their total abandonment would result in starvation on a scale that Israel could never tolerate. Egypt has little incentive to close the tunnels because of the brisk trade that it brings to the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, and likely doesn't want the vilification that it would receive from its own population if it were complicit in starving Gaza into Hamas' surrender (an unlikely scenario to begin with). I predict that the "heavy international pressure" on Egypt to prevent smuggling will turn out to be not heavy enough, and that the tunnels will be there as long as the blockade will be there.

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