Oh those poor STARVING PALESTINIANS and their shiny new cars

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.

STARVING GAZANS prepping new car for market

STARVING GAZANS prepping new car for market

Cars are brought in piece by piece from Egypt. A handful of the hundreds of smuggling tunnels in the Rafah border area are dedicated solely to the auto operation that started a few years ago. The entrepreneurs who run them say they’ve managed to bring in 30 to 40 vehicles in the past few months alone.

“We receive a car in four sections plus the motor,” says Abu Bilal, a mechanic who, like others involved in the enterprise, gave an assumed name. “We verify that everything is OK and then we begin to reassemble it right away,” he says, as his team prepares to get to work on a 2004 BMW fresh from the subterranean passages.

STARVING GAZANS blogging on their Apples

STARVING GAZANS blogging on their Apples

“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.

“Smuggling cars is more difficult than smuggling fuel, for example, since we are dealing with large pieces that can be detected and this means a lot more care has to be taken during transport, since Egyptian security on the other end are watching carefully,” Abu Bilal says.

STARVING GAZANS relaxing at the beach

STARVING GAZANS relaxing at the beach

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.”

But it is also a risky business. One of the tunnels was hit last week by the Israeli air force. “After that raid, car smuggling was briefly halted,” a smuggler said. The Israeli military usually targets smuggling tunnels in retaliation for attacks from Gaza on the Jewish state. The tunnels are used to bring in supplies as well as weapons into the impoverished territory.

STARVING GAZANS learning how to kill Israelis

STARVING GAZANS learning how to kill Israelis

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.

In his Gaza City auto shop, Abdel Sattar is putting the final touches on a 2009 Mitsubishi four-by-four that has just been assembled and repainted gray. “It’s ready to be sold,” he says, looking proudly over the paint job. “I think I can get 20,000 dollars for it.”

STARVING GAZANS eating grass says the Leftie media

STARVING GAZANS eating grass says the Leftie media

The demand for cars in Gaza, home of 1.5 million people half of whom are under 18, has shot up after the 22-day war that Israel waged there at the turn of the year in response to rocket fire. GOOGLE NEWS

RELATED VIDEOS: Islam and the Jews

Share