Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Toys in Gaza's tunnels

October 30, 2008 |  7:28 am

Gaza_tunnel All kinds of things are hustled through the ragged tunnels beneath Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip: militants, weapons, medicine, migrants, tools and livestock. The other day Egyptian security officials arrested smugglers trafficking toys to Palestinian children.

Agence French-Presse reported that the “smugglers were nabbed after emerging from a tunnel, which they were using to slip a large quantity of children’s toys into the coastal strip.”

Israel, which sealed the borders to Gaza after the radical group Hamas took control of the territory in 2007, and the U.S. have blamed the tunnels for a flow of weapons. The underground labyrinth bustles with masked men, shovels, buckets of dirt and pirated electricity.

A recent United Nations report described the tunnels as a “vital lifeline” for goods to reach Gaza. Thousands of people are believed to work in the sprawling network. Since January, 40 people have died in collapses, shootings and other mishaps in the tunnels.

--Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

Photo: A smuggler descending into a Gaza tunnel. Credit: Associated Press

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