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Gaza bombings a boon for smugglers

Marketplace Staff Dec 29, 2008
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Gaza bombings a boon for smugglers

Marketplace Staff Dec 29, 2008
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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: The world is keeping an eye on the Middle East this morning as deadly violence continues there in the Gaza Strip. Today’s Israeli air strikes targeted Hamas strongholds. A general strike has shut down banks and businesses there. But not all business in Gaza has come to a standstill. Daniel Estrin has this report.


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): These people who are managing or owning these tunnels will use this opportunity to raise the prices, and they’ll profit from it. Because working the tunnels during such Israeli military operation becomes more risky.

Shaban says that there are rumors floating around the Gaza Strip that some rockets launched into Israel have been paid for by tunnel operators — because crisis drums up their business.

From Jerusalem, I’m Daniel Estrin for Marketplace.

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