We are keeping the Gazan people alive, barely

A strong New York Times story about the Gaza tunnels that keep the people there alive:

Dusty sacks filled with cans of Coca-Cola were being loaded onto trucks by young boys, headed for supermarkets in Gaza City. Thousands of motorcycles were lined up on display in a nearby stadium, ranging in price from $2,000 to $10,000.

At Nijma market, refrigerators, flat-screen televisions, microwaves, air-conditioners, generators and ovens filled the tents, all at inflated prices, having been spirited into this town on the border with Egypt through tunnels under the sand. Some Gazans have even purchased cars smuggled in parts into the isolated Palestinian enclave.

The tunnels emerged as an essential lifeline for Gaza two years ago, when Israel imposed a political and economic embargo after Hamas took over the area. Israel did its best to obliterate them during its three-week military offensive in Gaza last winter, saying they were being used for smuggling weapons and explosives.

But the builders set to work immediately after that, and with little hope of the border crossings with Israel opening anytime soon — and rich profits to be harvested — there are more tunnels now than ever, and Rafah has turned into a shopping mecca where the tunnel owners are kings.

“If the siege were to be lifted,” said Osama, 22, a tunnel owner, “I would end up in intensive care.” Osama would not give his family name, fearing he would never be able to travel legally out of Gaza if identified. Locally, he goes by the nickname of Doda, which means worm.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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