A trip through Gaza’s underground smuggling network

Sarah A. Topol in The New Republic:

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 03 17.06 Finding the tunnels proved much easier than I had expected. Together with two other journalists, I hired Mahmoud, who moonlights as translator while co-owning a profitable, albeit somewhat vague, telecommunications company in the Palestinian town of Rafah. His best friend drove us the 15 minutes from Rafah to just outside the Philadelphi corridor, the heavily guarded strip of no-man's land that separates the two countries. Approximately 70 yards from the border, we hit dozens of tattered white tents, organized row upon row, tens of feet apart. Each tent houses the mouth of a tunnel that snakes beneath the border to Egypt.

Following Mahmoud's instructions, we wait in the car as he attempts to negotiate an interview for us with one of the tunnel owners. Around us, the flurry of activity is anything but surreptitious. Trucks, heavily laden with unmarked, small white parcels, loiter outside the tents ready to transport goods around the Strip. Tractors push and pull mounds of sand disgorged by bombings, looking to recover lost goods. Some tents have been damaged by the war, but many remain unscathed.

“What are the tents for?” I ask Mahmoud.

“They are to protect from sun and rain,” he answers.

“It's not to keep the tunnels secret?”

“The tunnels are not a secret!” he exclaims over the din of generators and the frantic scraping of shovels.

More here.