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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid