The tunnels have caused friction among residents as
Israeli operations destroy both tunnels and homes
A film by Laila El-Haddad and Saeed Taji Farouky

When Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, they built a wall alongside the Gaza border with Egypt, splitting the city of Rafah into two. Families found themselves divided by a high-security international border, though their houses often lay less than 100m apart. Frequent border closures by the Israelis further isolated the Gaza Strip and Palestinian trade soon went underground.

Since then, dozens of secret tunnels have been burrowed below the Israeli border fence, connecting family houses on both sides of the border.

Israel believes the tunnels are used as a means
to carry out terror attacks against civilians
Everything moves through Rafah's tunnels - from cigarettes and medicine to cash and people. But the residents have also suffered enormously. Israeli operations to destroy the tunnels have demolished thousands of homes over the past seven years.

Israel's main concern with the tunnels is the smuggling of weapons to armed Palestinian groups. But for the smugglers themselves, there is far more to the tunnel trade than politics and arms smuggling.

It is a vast enterprise, and pays five times an average annual Gaza salary in one month. It is a family business, passed on from father to son and always - for reasons of security as well as economics - kept in the family.

People & Power investigates one of the most lucrative businesses in Palestine.

Watch part one of this episode of People & Power

Watch part two of this episode of People & Power

This episode of People & Power aired from Sunday, May 11, 2008 at the following times GMT:

Sunday: 14:30
Monday: 01:30
Tuesday: 06:30 and 13:30
Saturday: 03:00 and 20:30


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