RAMALLAH, July 25 (JMCC) - Author Alexandra Robinson got a first-hand view of Gaza's tunnels and the industry that runs them. In this account
at the Palestine Chronicle
, she describes the sometimes-tight security around the tunnels and what they actually look like.
We visited two different tunnel zones, the first one, Salah Din Gate, is right at the border with Egypt. The Egyptian side is visible and the tunnels in this area are short, on average ranging a distance of only10 to 50 meters before reaching the Egyptian side. We visited two working tunnels in this area and one tunnel that was still being built. There are different types of tunnels, most of them are well-like structures covered by tents that are 10 to 30 meters deep. Men and goods are hoisted up and down the shaft by a cable with a rope seat that is run by a small motor. If there is no electricity the lift cannot--one of the many dangers involved in working in the tunnels is that the electricity may cut while someone or something is on the lift. Once inside the well-like tunnels it is extremely hot and there is a palette system running on a similar motorized cable as the lift that carries things through the tunnel. We visited two tunnels that were like this. The first one was being run by two teenaged-boys. I spoke briefly with the owner-operator of the second tunnel who was a middle-aged man. He told me a little bit about himself and how he became involved in the tunnel business. He studied in New Delhi and has an MMA in Microbiology. Before Operation Cast Lead, he was working with NGO’s in Gaza City. After the economy took a downward turn he bought this tunnel with a partner for 50,000 USD. When his tunnel first opened he was making 500 to 600 USD per day. These days he finds it hard to make this much money over the course of an entire month.