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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Le Figaro: Over 350 tunnels between Egypt and Gaza

France's Le Figaro reports that there are over 350 tunnels between Gaza and Rafah - and goes on to swallow Hamas propaganda that they are only used for food and fuel: (autotranslated)
One year after the seizure of power by the fundamentalists, over 350 have been dug underground to escape the blockade of Israel and import food from Egypt.

At the surface, the facades of buildings in Rafah aligned along the border with Egypt were turned into Swiss cheese by five years of Israeli mitraille. Until the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in September 2005, the frontline here ran along the 'axis Philadelphia "controlled by the IDF.

The dreams of opening, which had preceded the departure of Israeli troops are no longer a distant mirage. Within a year of power of Hamas in Gaza, the basement has been transformed into a real mouse. At the foot of buildings, tents sheltering the entrance of spinning smuggling tunnels to Egypt have grown like mushrooms.

...The Islamists took control traffic tunnel have industrialized. Rafah, a town of outlaws, became the capital of "import-export" version gaziote.

Now, more than 350 tunnels connecting Rafah to Egypt. The din of drills and engines running pulleys to trace the goods now accompanies the buzz of Israeli surveillance drones. The houses are filled with border sandbags and it does even bother to hide the freshly turned earth. "The Hamas government allows us to dig tunnels to break the siege imposed by Israel, said Abu Jendal, co-owner of two tunnels. "The key is not to put us kneel facing the Israelis. "

Two teams of ten men take turns day and night for him spawn a new underpass. They share a salary of 100 dollars for every metre widened to death drills and trowels. They will have four months to travel the 800 meters to win the opening in Egypt."Some diggers, very famous, earn more," said Mahmoud 22 years, which has already drilled a dozen galleries. That is a pittance compared to the risks involved. I lost four comrades in landslides since I do this work. But in Rafah, work in tunnels is the only one that relates. Thousands of people are employees and everyone lives g hanks to the tunnels. But because Israel, we are forced to live like earthworms. "

The intercom from the tunnel rings. A delivery arrives. The pulleys busy to go up in the pit 25 meters deep cans of petrol and diesel, which are badly in Gaza. In Rafah, just Egypt: chocolate, coca, medicines, computers, engines, spare parts, oil, sugar, houmos, canned food, cigarettes… As long as demand is strong enough, the cost of transport (350 dollars per bag goods) is profitable. The importer shall telephone number of his contact the Egyptian owner of the tunnel and it is responsible to deliver the goods. A guard of Hamas monitors everything that passes through tunnels.

"The importation of drugs, alcohol, weapons and people is prohibited," says the bearded supervisor, equipped with a walkie-talkie to call for reinforcements or to be alerted in case of attack Israeli. The Islamist movement, which draws in passing a tax ranging from 20 to 30% depending on the goods, and found in such trafficking as a source of funding comfortable.

However, these goods represent only a drop of water in relation to the needs of the Gaza Strip. "Since Hamas is in power, we lack everything: food, gasoline, drinking water, medicines," said Samir, a trader. The products are sold in Egypt to triple their prices, while 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. The survival has become our daily concern. The most important rule is to never get sick. Due to lack of medicines and medical care effective, any disease can prevail. "

The role of Hamas is reduced to manage shortages. Thus, the Islamist government distributes the past two months ration tickets, which are essential to get a few litres of fuel at the pump. The only success on the assets of Hamas is to have foiled forecasts in bringing order and security in Gaza, where armed gangs were mafia law.

The order has a price. The associations defending human rights denounce a dark years in Gaza, for individual freedoms.
The last paragraph of skepticism doesn't make up for the reporter's unbelievable parroting of the lie that no weapons or people go through the tunnels - Egypt has been discovering plenty of large weapons caches near the tunnels.

Unfortunately, it appears that Israel's blockade has not hurt Hamas at all. While Israel is not obligated to provide food and fuel to its neighboring enemy territory, the stated goals of the blockade (to force a popular uprising against Hamas) have not materialized and on the contrary, Hamas has managed to profit from it.