“The land beneath Egypt and Gaza resembles a Swiss cheese,” reports the BBC, “full of holes and tunnels through which the Palestinians smuggle the everyday items they are denied by the blockade.”
Tunnels (and intertubes) perforate ‘national’ borders. Makeshift submarines – narcosubs – circumvent them. Last I heard it cost Japanese kids $2000 to bribe a particular NYC visa worker for a ‘real’ student visa. Fake passports are much, much heavier. Wormholes fill our undocumented world. Money is always the best grease for movement, although people will never be a slippery as capital. But back to Gaza.
According to The Guardian, Hamas licenses, taxes, and provides electricity for these tunnels, while prohibiting drugs and booze and smokes from entering. Sober city. “Palestinian smugglers in Gaza have built dozens, perhaps hundreds, of underground tunnels through the sand to bring a wide range of goods into the small territory, from food to fuel to cattle, to skirt Israel’s economic blockade.”
Hence the U.S.-backed construction of a steel wall, which will stretch for several miles and go roughly 60 ft. underground, an anti-tunnel barrier which reportedly “cannot be cut or melted – in short it is impenetrable.”
“There are thought to be hundreds of tunnels along the border”
The dark osmosis of border smuggling is mostly – but not always – profit-oriented. But enough about walls, and tunnels and submarines which can transport drugs or people or anything, really; let’s talk about fishing. And food.
My friend Maggie Schmitt is working on a series of mini-documentaries about daily life in Gaza. Here is a recent piece of hers which was picked up by The Nation:
and here’s an excerpt from her Atlantic piece on eating under seige:
Once upon a time, Gaza was known for its citrus trees and its extraordinary seafood, the smell of jasmine in the evening. No longer: now it is hard to find any image of Gaza that does not reek of death, destruction and deprivation. And yet despite the siege, the bombings, and the political turmoil that surrounds them, the people of Gaza continue to live and to create their small share of beauty and grace wherever they can. One of these places is in the kitchen.
What I want to tell you about is the kitchen, with women’s bright eyes flashing as they roll out the dough, and the herb garden religiously tended, and the delicate meal eaten in the shade of a fig tree. But alas, we are in Gaza, and I can’t talk about the kitchen without talking about everything else.
“Beachside cafés survive in the shadow of destruction. These residential buildings were leveled by F16s.”- photo by Amir Sadafi