Gunrunning Below Gaza

(New York Times) Craig S. Smith - Most of the weapons that fill Gaza have come through dozens of tunnels dug between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The gunrunning actually slowed somewhat since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in September because weapons flooded across the border immediately after Israel's departure, depressing prices. Since Egypt began cracking down, the tunnels dug from the Palestinian side head several hundred yards into Egyptian territory before surfacing in a pasture or olive grove. The tunnelers send up a pipe for their accomplices in Egypt to locate and break open the tunnel's "eye" at night when the shipment is ready. People involved in the trade say activity will pick up if fighting breaks out between Palestinian factions or if there are renewed conflicts with Israel, as everyone here expects. Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Israeli Parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, said 12,000 guns, several hundred antitank-rocket launchers, thousands of antitank rockets, tons of explosives, and possibly even some shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles have entered the Gaza Strip over the last year, primarily through the tunnels. "We're not talking about weapons for terrorism but about weapons for an army," he said.

2006-01-27 00:00:00

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