Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gaza's proliferating tunnels

Foreign Policy has an excellent article about the ubiquitous smuggling tunnels sustaining the Gazan economy. Apparently the smuggling market has become incredibly saturated:

One smuggler, who used to ply his business in the days of the Israeli occupation when a single shipment of weapons could earn him $5,000, bemoaned the fact that there were so many tunnels these days that he barely earned $50 per load. Indeed, some commodities are now actually cheaper than when they were imported from Israel, with the lower cost of goods originating from Egypt offsetting the cost of smuggling them in. On the days when the [Palestinian Authority] pays salaries and Gazans go shopping, some tunnel operators find it more profitable to drive a taxi.

Apparently the banalization of the tunnels has been pretty complete:

This set the stage for a number of fraudulent schemes that came to light last summer, with Gazans of modest means investing in tunnels that turned out not to exist. Tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars were stolen in this way, and some suggested senior members of Hamas might somehow be implicated. The Hamas government arranged partial compensation of the victims.

For all previous posts on the Gazan smuggling tunnels, check the archive.

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