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Smuggling tunnels

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Smuggling tunnels are secret tunnels, usually hidden underground, used for smuggling of goods, illegal weapons and people.

Smuggling tunnels in Rafah, Gaza Strip

Smuggling tunnels connect Egypt and the Gaza Strip, bypassing the international border established by the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. The tunnels pass under the "Philadelphi buffer zone" (also called "Philadelphi Route" ציר פילדלפי in Hebrew)—an area given to Israeli military control in the Oslo accords in order to secure the border with Egypt.

The tunnels connect the Egyptian town of Rafah with the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah. These tunnels are used to smuggle people and a wide variety of items, including weapons, ammunition, illegal drugs, clothes, cigarettes, alcohol, and vehicle parts. With the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada, the tunnels were used mainly for smuggling of terrorists, weapons and explosives.

The tunnels are dug from basements of houses under the border at depths of up to 15 meters (49 feet), reaching up to 800 meters (2640 feet) in length. The owners of the houses receive a portion of the profits from the smuggling as well as compensation if the tunnel is discovered and the house destroyed.

The tunnels are run as businesses, mainly the Abu Samhadana and Abu Rish families, both of Bedouin origin. Smuggling provides tens of thousands of dollars in profits for each delivery. There are financial links to Moussa Arafat, nephew and close confidant of Yasser Arafat. [1] (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/452631.html)

According to one report [2] (http://www.jerusalemposts.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=6342), the cost of smuggling a person from Egypt into the Gaza strip is $1000. A Kalashnikov rifle in the Gaza Strip can cost up to $1000 compared with 2000 Egyptian pounds ($320) across the border. A single bullet costs $3 in Gaza compared with $0.08 in Egypt.

As of May 19, 2004 SA-7 Strela-2 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, AT-3 Sagger anti-tank missiles, and other long-range rockets are stored on the Egyptian side of the border waiting to be smuggled through tunnels into the Gaza Strip. [3] (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1084677182465)

Between September 2000 and May 2004 ninety tunnels connecting Egypt and the Gaza Strip have been found and destroyed by the Israeli Defence Forces. [4] (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1084160735358&p=1078027574121). One of the operations to destroy these tunnels and damage the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza was the controversial Operation Rainbow.

It is believed that some of the tunnels are controlled by one of the Palestinian Authority security services under the command of Moussa Arafat, cousin of Yasser Arafat. Moussa Arafat is believed to receive a portion of the profits derived from the smuggling tunnels. [5] (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=542373)

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