Gaza Tunnels Focal Point of War

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2009 4:07 PM CST
A Palestinian smuggler moves a goat through a tunnel from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The massive tunnels supplying food, medicine, and rockets from Egypt into Gaza are the bane of Israel's military, and a lifeline for Palestinians and the economy of Egypt’s destitute Sinai, the Los Angeles Times reports. Smuggling has been immune to military action, to the consternation of Israeli leaders. If it isn’t halted, “then one might very well ask why it was that we embarked on this war to begin with,” one Israeli general said.

The tunnels are as much an entrepreneurial endeavor as a military one. Private homeowners who allow their homes to be entry points get a cut of the profits. Smugglers “are not necessarily believed to be sympathetic to al-Qaeda or Hamas, but see it as a livelihood,” an expert said. Egypt seems afraid of denying its poorest citizens this income, and many agree that a solution can only be political. “As long as there's a blockade around Gaza, the tunnels will remain,” one smuggler said.