Yesterday’s Jerusalem Post reports that the IDF is sending a representative, Capt. Asher, to the US to learn from the US military about their methods battling tunnels on the US-Mexico border.
Regarding Capt. Asher’s mission, an IDF officer offers this quote: “We have yet to find the perfect system, even though we have been searching for one for years.”
Since the closure of Karni Crossing in June 2007, movement of trucks into Gaza has declined by 75% and is limited to basic humanitarian goods. Consequently, moving goods through tunnels underneath the Gaza-Egypt border has replaced movement above-ground through Gaza’s crossings with Israel. According to Pal Think, two third of the goods entering Gaza are now smuggled through 400-600 tunnels.
The smuggling generally does not include raw materials – 97% of Gaza’s factories have closed since manufacturers can no longer purchase inputs via the crossings with Israel – and it does not include materials for international organizations, which remain dependent on the trickle of goods through the crossings with Israel.
On the other hand, the Hamas authorities and the Rafah governorate collect heavy taxes from tunnels – around $10,000 for each tunnel.
Perhaps it is time to consider who is really benefiting by restrictions on above-ground movement in and out of Gaza, and who is harmed?