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Monday, February 28, 2011     GET REAL

Hamas smuggling goods bought with donations 'the other way' to Egypt

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime is now overseeing the smuggling of Palestinian goods to Egypt.


Palestinian sources said the Islamic regime has permitted the export of Palestinian and Israeli products from the Gaza Strip to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. They said the goods were being smuggled through the huge Palestinian network of tunnels that spans the 14-kilometer Gaza-Sinai border.

"The traffic is now going the other way because the Gaza Strip has more consumer goods that it needs," a Palestinian source said.

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The sources said the Gaza exports have been tolerated by the new military-led regime in Cairo. They said the exports were comprised of civilian goods and replenishing stocks in Bedouin communities in Sinai.

"The goods sent to Egypt are of a much higher quality than what they have there," the source said. "The Egyptian government doesn't like it, but is not doing much to stop this."

The sources said Palestinian merchants were sending such products as food, clothes, construction and electric tools, automobile parts as well as agricultural equipment to Egypt. They said much of the equipment was bought in Israel with Western donor funds allocated to the Gaza Strip.

By December, the merchants were reporting increasing demand for Israeli and Palestinian imports from the Gaza Strip. The sources said the smuggled goods were priced for the inexpensive Egyptian market.

A key Gaza export sector has been dairy products. The sources said milk, cheese, eggs and poultry were being smuggled to Sinai on a daily basis.

The sources said the Gaza exports did not require the construction of additional tunnels. They said the exports, however, forced Sinai smugglers to employ additional personnel to remove and load goods from the tunnels.

Some Palestinians were also exporting steel, aluminum and copper to Sinai. They said Egyptian authorities have seized some shipments, but were largely ignoring the trade after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

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