Palestinian man transports a sheep from Egypt to Gaza via an underground tunnel, 2009. (Photo: Said Khatib/Agence France-Presse)
I've heard of a few different instances where desperate friends have crawled through the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, seeking to either enter after the Israeli military has shooed them away, or leave with the intent to never return. Yet the details in these stories are always sparse, or forgotten; people don't often freely discuss clandestine border crossings.
As I stepped onto three wobbly bricks leading into the tunnel, the first thing I heard was 'Watch your head.' This phrase would be repeated many times during the 1,000-foot walk to the Gaza side. After about the 10th warning, I yelled up the tunnel, 'I'm much more worried about being bombed than grazing my head!' My guide, who, like the others I spoke with here, refused to give his name for fear of the authorities, guffawed. It took him half a minute to recover from the 'ridiculousness' of my concern.
There were four more workers just inside the mouth of the tunnel. As they crouched on the ground, intertwined with the pulley system, the workers transported crushed stones that would be used to make bricks for construction in Gaza. It is a painstaking process. The stones arrive by the ton and have to be loaded by hand into the tunnel, where they are placed in large blue plastic baskets that are connected to form a long train.
Empty baskets whizzed past us and jolted to a stop at the tunnel's entrance.
'This is our life,' said one of the workers, his face iced in a layer of white dust. 'Life is expensive, and Rafah is even more high-priced than Cairo. So we are forced to work and live underground.'
Read Izzidien's full article here.