Come the iron wall
Saleh Al-Naami finds that everyday commodities are what form the contraband passing through secret tunnels between
Maged Ibrahim hurried to his sister's house metres away from his own to fetch empty plastic containers. This university professor was out of time. As soon as his nephew, Adham, gave him three containers, Ibrahim sped away in his car to the nearest fuelling station to fill up on gasoline, in order to ensure a minimal supply for his car in case of emergencies. He also uses gasoline for the electricity generator at his home when there are power outages, which can sometimes last up to five hours, since
Ibrahim, like many others in
Salem Al-Othman, a resident of Al-Nosayrat Refugee Camp in the centre of
At the same time, and unlike most Thursdays, the traditional markets in
Aisha Maghli, 81, who lives in Al-Satr Al-Sharqi district in Khan Younis, south of
The rumoured wall has been a topic of much debate among young Palestinians also. At many of their gatherings in
For Salman, 38, tunnel smuggling was a turning point in his life. He began as the owner of a small electrical goods shop and has evolved into a trader of many commodities. Today, he deals in electrical equipment, construction material, livestock, and other goods that are in short supply under siege. Near his house in central
Salman partners with Egyptian merchants who bring goods to the Egyptian side of the tunnels. From there, Salman and his men bring the merchandise through the tunnels after paying a fee to the owners of the tunnel. Tunnel traders prefer not to disclose the value or volume of goods that they bring in from
Although the majority believe these traders make a steep profit, in reality this is not true. Tunnel traders pay their Egyptian counterparts for the goods and then the tunnel owners, as well as the wages of a large number of workers, which necessitates that they considerably raise the price of commodities in order to make a profit. Like other merchants, Salman hopes the siege will end and the tunnels shut down because his is a risky business.
Khamis Al-Daqqa, who sells vegetables, explained how the tunnels have helped keep prices low. Al-Daqqa cited that if large amounts of onions were not pouring through the tunnels, the price of one kilogramme would be around five shekels, or LE6, instead of the current price of two shekels. "The large volume of fruit and vegetables has revived trade and improved the public's purchasing power," he told the Weekly.
Before rumours about the iron wall began to circulate, merchants had begun a new practice to drive prices even lower: digging their own tunnels to cut the fee they pay to tunnel owners. One such trader, who previously paid 40 per cent of the value cost to tunnel owners, dug his own tunnel that specialises in the passage of electrical goods and garments.
One tunnel owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Weekly that all the tunnels he is familiar with are used to smuggle basic civilian goods and merchandise. His tunnel is dedicated to medication and some foodstuffs that are secured by his partners on the other side of the border. He receives the goods at his end of the tunnel and distributes them based on orders placed by medicine dispensaries. He and his partners receive a set fee from the dispensaries for each delivery.
Deputy parliament speaker Ahmed Bahr is certain that the Egyptian leadership will not allow the people of
Bahr concluded: "The threat comes from
The link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/980/re2.htm