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Gaza smuggling tunnels bombed

Scores of Israeli army tanks and armored personnel carriers are massed near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Air strikes continued in the Gaza Strip all day today. So far, at least 335 people have been killed by the Israeli raids. Palestinians are still firing rockets into Southern Israel, too. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said today a cease fire with Hamas is out of the question.
Shops and banks are closed in the Gaza Strip. Electricity is being rationed to about eight hours every single day. But Daniel Estrin reports the attacks haven't completely put a damper on commerce.


Daniel Estrin: Over the weekend, Israeli warplanes bombed 40 underground tunnels on the border between Egypt and Gaza. Israel says those tunnels are used to smuggle in weapons, missiles and even foreign fighters.

But the tunnel industry has also dominated Gaza commerce. Israel's sanctions on Gaza restrict certain consumer goods, so smugglers squeeze through everything from refrigerators to Viagra.

There are about 800 tunnels altogether. And Omar Shaban, a Gaza-based economist, says some smugglers are making good money off of the crisis.

Omar Shaban (voice of interpreter): The people who are managing or owning these tunnels will use this opportunity to raise prices, and they'll profit from it. Because working the tunnels during an Israeli military operation becomes more risky.

And people are depending on them to take that risk. After all, Shaban says, about 90 percent of all the goods in the Gaza Strip come through these tunnels.

From Jerusalem, I'm Daniel Estrin for Marketplace.

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