Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Do-It-Yourself Weapons and Water Pipes in Gaza
Apart from the first shipment of cement this week, only a few goods trickle in to Gaza through checkpoints.
Gazans manage by taking advantage of the few things that are readily available–smuggling tunnels and their own ingenuity, both for better and worse. Here are a couple of the most notable stories I’ve seen this week on how the people of Gaza are carrying on these days.
An article from Ha’aretz today highlights a few of Gaza’s efforts to thrive despite its lockdown conditions. The situation has created a new class of “nouveaux riches of Gaza,” by those who open up new tunnels for smuggling.
Ha’aretz also highlighted potential efforts by Hamas to produce its own weapons since their smuggling channels got choked off : “Technical experts in Israel are divided over whether Hamas can meet this challenge, although its desire to do so is not in question”
Some adaptations are more exploitative. An op-ed by Muhammad Albaba, in the Palestinian paper Al-Ayyam, skewers Gazan vendors who are jacking up prices, not only for smuggled goods, but even goods that are passed through checkpoints and should not have a price change: “‘It’s the tunnels, sir’–The phrase has become an excuse for raising prices without regulation, and exploiting others with this pretext for their opportunism.” Even goods going through the checkpoint are doubled in price, he says.
Meanwhile, recent entries from the Palestinian blog Kabobfest offer a more comedic take on Gazan adaptations to difficult living conditions under the blockade. My personal favorite is the do-it yourself argilah (water pipe) guide. It suggests using items no longer of any use under blockade conditions: tea kettles, shower hoses, and stove heads.
Shower hoses, apparently, make a decent argileh hose subsitute: “Who are you kidding, there is barely enough water to drink, so showers are on hold for the time being, let’s use this hose that will not be supplying water to your shower head any time soon.” Step by step instructions, and a picture of the final product, can be seen here.
PHOTOS: Top Left: Smuggling tunnel in Rafah. January 22, 2009. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa. Bottom Right: Smoking a water pipe in Gaza city. Jan 20, 2007. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem.