GAZA CITY — A shiny 2009 Volkswagen is the latest hot item to come out of the besieged territory’s smuggling tunnels. Hamas, the radical Islamist movement that violently seized power in the Gaza Strip, controls at least two of the car tunnels.
“We need two weeks to reassemble a car, since we have to solder the pieces and repaint the body,” Abu Bilal says. “The client chooses the colour.” Tunnel operators buy the sections — mostly from stolen or repossessed vehicles — in Egypt.
The business is lucrative. “A car on the Egyptian side costs us 6,000 to 10,000 dollars on average,” says Abu Saed, another trafficker. “Once we re-assemble and repaint it, we sell it for at least double that.”
Tunnel operators say Egypt too is increasingly cracking down on the underground smuggling, by pumping sewage or gas or by throwing explosives into the tunnels.
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