In Gaza, looser blockade leaves smugglers in limbo
Smuggling through tunnels into the Gaza Strip has dipped as their operators try to figure out whether they'll still have a business once Israel eases its blockade of the territory.
Some of the hundreds of tunnels under the border with Egypt have suspended work. Others now only bring in the most sought-after items, such as cement, steel, fuel and cigarettes. Some Gaza shopowners and traders have frozen orders of smuggled goods until they find out whether merchandise coming in legally from Israel will be cheaper.
Gaza's entire business community is in limbo, following Israel's announcement last week that it would significantly loosen its 3-year-old chokehold on Gaza, after coming under harsh international criticism over its deadly raid on an Gaza-bound international flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists.
"We've had very slow traffic these days," said one tunnel owner, who only gave his first name, Ayman, for fear of repercussions from Egypt which has cracked down on smuggling. "Merchants are waiting to find out what items are going to be allowed through the Israeli crossings."
Under the blockade, imposed after Hamas' violent Gaza takeover in 2007, Israel only permitted the import of a few dozen items, such as basic foods and medicines. In response, smuggling flourished, and a wide range of goods from fuel to candy to cars and livestock were brought in through tunnels.
Now Israel promises to let in everything except weapons and "dual use" items that could be diverted by Hamas for military purposes.
Which goes back to prove Israel's reason to not loosen the blockade - now Hamas has better capability to smuggle arms. Thanks Turkey for helping terrorists rearm.