GAZA-EGYPT - TUNNELS ILLEGAL BUT VITAL PART OF COMMERCE, ROMANCE +
Many of the young in
GAZA CITY, Aug 27 2012 (IPS) - Mai Ahmed, a 26–year-old
from the West Bank fell in love over the Internet with Mohammed Warda from
Nussirat refugee camp in Gaza after they ‘met’ on the Internet. The Israeli
government refused permission for her to travel to
Brides and bridegrooms are now being smuggled through the
Abu Saleem, a 29-year-old digger at the
It’s cheaper to find a bride in
Adel Al-Ahmed, 37, is happy with his Egyptian wife Shymaa after
he found he could not afford the dowry for a
Difficulties obtaining travel permits and visas have made the
tunnels a lifeline to cross to and from
Tunnel owners in Rafah would earlier transport women and children like cargo in re-fashioned barrels. Now, people crawl or walk, depending on the structure of the tunnel.
The tunnels are considered illegal in
The Israeli government says the tunnels facilitate illegal smuggling, and routinely sends F-16 fighter jets to destroy them.
That makes marital unions a risky business. Brides and grooms
using tunnel access also require a permit from the de facto government in
Adel married a Palestinian girl, but divorce followed due to “family demands”. He has since remarried after finding a new bride through his sister, who married an Egyptian in El-Arish.
“I went to a wedding in
With the money he saved in paying an Egyptian rather than a
Palestinian dowry, Adel could furnish an apartment in Rafah. “I would advise
Adel paid 30,000 Egyptian pounds (about 5,000 dollars) in dowry, but the conditions of marriage are “way easier and less demanding.”
Many have ventured as Adel did. Ahmed, who gave only his first
name, crossed into
Ahmed had proposed earlier to young Palestinian women in
Hadeel, a young Palestinian woman from Rafah in her mid-twenties
became friends with an Egyptian girl during an official NGO visit. A few months
later Hadeel’s friend informed her that her brother and family would like to
They came over and Hadeel met her friend’s brother. Several
tunnel visits later, he proposed. They are due to get married in October. Hadeel
will move to
For many Gazans, there is both love, and light, at the end of these tunnels.