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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid