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Gaza's backwards economy

The underground tunnels that were until recently got everything from canned fruit to computers to Palestinians in Gaza are are now being used for export, according to this report.

"We reversed our trade since the easing of the Israeli blockade and now we export," said a tunnel operator who goes by Abu Jamil.

"The Egyptian traders demand Israeli livestock to breed with their own to improve its quality," the 45-year-old smuggler said, calling his partners on the other side of the heavily-guarded border to tell them the cows are coming through, each with an Israel tag on its neck extolling its breeding potential.

The Egyptians also order Israeli coffee, blue jeans, mobile phones, and what Abu Jamil refers to as "raw materials" -- scrap copper, aluminium and used car batteries that can be recycled in Egypt.

Israel eased the blockade over the summer after the flotilla fiasco drew international attention to conditions in Gaza, but most export from Hamas-controlled territory is still largely banned. (What could be Israel's security concern in Gazan fruit being sold in Europe or Egypt is beyond me.)

The smugglers in Sinai and Gaza who were getting rich off the blockade can continue their profits, it seems, by getting Israeli consumer goods and Gazan agriculture into Egypt. Maybe this says as much about the state of Egypt's economy as it does about Gaza's.

SAID KHATIB/Getty Images

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