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7 Jul, 2008 01:11

Palestinians go underground to survive

A year ago, after Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel imposed a blockade on the territory, leaving it isolated. Now Palestinians are turning to smuggling to survive, an activity that’s proving dangerous.

Trying to cope with their isolation, Palestinians have found their own solutions – a world of underground tunnels, dug in order to bypass closed crossing points and provide access to what they claim are essential items from Egypt.

People risk their lives when smuggling into the sealed-off area. Their job is to find ways to tunnel into the outside world during periods of isolation. Their actions have been causing concern for both Egyptian and Israeli authorities.

As they use simple tools to dig out their passageways, it can take them up to three months to finish their work.

Despite the potential rewards, this is an extremely dangerous profession. There are no struts or roof supports so the entire tunnel can collapse at any time. It's already happened, killing the diggers and burying them deep underground.

The dead are considered martyrs locally. Those who survive tell their friends of making a heroic escape after being trapped for days below the surface.