Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Car Smugglers of Gaza

If you set aside your geopolitical feelings on the region, you have to admit that the Palestinians are a pretty ingenious people.

For years Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have operated tunnels under the Israeli-controlled border between the Strip and Egypt. The Israelis say the tunnels are used by Hamas to smuggle explosives and weapons into Gaza, while the Gazans say that the tunnels are a vital link to the outside world, and are often the only way to bring in the staples of life - food, fuel, medicine, etc. past the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Now something new is coming through the tunnels of Gaza - automobiles.

Smugglers have started to bring entire cars through the small, hand-dug tunnels. The cars, often stolen in Egypt have to be hacked apart into four or more pieces to be hauled through the tunnels. Once on the Gaza side, they're reassembled and even painted in the new owners' choice of color. The cars aren't cheap - they sell for at least twice as much in Gaza as they would in Egypt, but demand is reportedly high - hundreds of cars were reported destroyed in Israel's military campaign in January, while many others stopped running because of a lack of spare parts.
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