In the Tunnels: Gaza's Underground Economy

Blockaded by Israel since 2007, the Palestinian enclave on the sea has not lost its entrepreneurial spirit, tunneling its way to trade and commerce

Richard Mosse

A pulley mechanism is used to raise goods out of a tunnel near Rafah. The plastic chairs were smuggled in from Egypt to refit a school destroyed by Israeli bombs, according to Palestinians.

A 30-ft. drop was the only way into the dark, earthy abyss, and the Palestinian tunnel workers were giggling nervously at the prospect of a foreign journalist going for a plunge. It didn't seem like a good idea. Apart from the descent, there had been Israeli air strikes for the past three days targeting the dense smuggling network that snakes beneath the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt. An Israeli F-16 was circling overhead at that very moment.

I took the ladder. Underground, the space was narrow and damp. Less than a kilometer at half-crawl and I...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!