News / Middle East

Closing of Smuggling Tunnels Hits Gazans Hard

Closing of Smuggling Tunnels Hits Gazans Hardi
X
October 01, 2013 6:29 PM
Gaza's economy has been hit hard by the recent destruction of most of the smugglers' tunnels into Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The tunnels provided an economic lifeline to Gaza, which is under a seven-year-old Israeli blockade. But Egypt says the tunnels were being used by Islamist militants to stage attacks in Sinai. Scott Bobb reports from the Rafah crossing in the Gaza Strip.
Scott Bobb
— Gaza's economy has been hit hard by the recent destruction of most of the smugglers' tunnels into Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The tunnels provided an economic lifeline to Gaza, which is under a seven-year-old Israeli blockade. But Egypt says the tunnels were being used by Islamist militants to stage attacks in Sinai.

It is a quiet weekday morning along Gaza’s boundary with Egypt.  Activity in this economic lifeline for the Palestinian territory has virtually stopped since Egyptian security forces began destroying the hundreds of smuggling tunnels here.
 
A few tunnels are still open, mostly kilometer-long ones that go beyond a 500-meter-wide buffer zone set up by Egyptian forces.
 
The Egyptians began destroying the tunnels after the military coup in early July. Before then, thousands of tons of food, fuel, construction materials and machinery entered Gaza through the tunnels each month. This eased shortages caused by the Israeli blockade imposed after the militant Hamas took power in Gaza.
 
Tunnel owner Abu Khalil does not want his face shown on camera. He says his business has been destroyed.

“There are a lot of people sitting without work now," he said. "This has made the rate of unemployment very high. And prices for goods have become very expensive."
 
Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost. Many gas stations now are shut. Construction projects have stopped. Raw sewage flows into the sea because the treatment plant no longer works.  Electrical power is being rationed.  Analysts say the closure of the tunnels have cost Gaza some $300 million.
 
Islam Salouha's grocery store is open despite a blackout. He says business is down 70 percent. Most goods come from Israel and cost twice as much. The uncertain future makes it difficult to stay in business.
 
"We buy some consumer products week by week, others day by day," he said. "For example, cigarettes you buy day by day, the other consumer products, week by week. Because we are afraid if we buy them at the higher price and the price goes down we will lose money."

Egypt says militants are using the tunnels to attack its forces in Sinai. Hamas denies that.

The new Egyptian leader, General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, is suspicious of the ties between Hamas and Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, deposed by the military three months ago, says Professor Mukhaimar Abu Saada of Al-Azhar University in Gaza.
 
“Basically Hamas is part of the international Muslim Brotherhood organization and el-Sissi and his comrades were watching how the Hamas Muslim Brotherhood was developing over the past year when Morsi was in power," he said. "And they were not happy with it."
 
Hamas leaders say they are trying to improve ties with Egypt's new leaders but this may take time. Gazans, meanwhile, say they just want the tunnels re-opened or legal trade to be allowed through Rafah Crossing.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid