The Washington Post

KFC smugglers now delivering fast food through Gaza tunnels, report says


An ad for al-Yamama's Kentucky Fried Chicken delivery, which smuggles the food into Gaza from Egypt (al-Yamama)

Kentucky Fried Chicken is something of a revolutionary symbol in the Middle East, as the Post’s Max Fisher described in this post on Libya’s “Uncle Kentaki” chicken earlier this week.

Now the Gaza Strip is getting in on the action: Enterprising Palestinians have begun smuggling fried chicken 35 miles from Egypt.

As the Christian Science Monitor reports, this trend is more economic than political. A local delivery company, al-Yamama, began advertising a KFC-delivery service on Facebook after noticing how popular the fast food chain was with its employees. And smugglers agreed to transport the orders because – to quote one tunnel smuggler, Abu Iyad – “the tunnel business is not like before, [and] things are going worse.”

network of hundreds of tunnels connects Gaza to Egypt along their seven-mile border, allowing food, medicine, cars, construction materials and weapons to bypass an Israeli blockade. But recent events have complicated the previously profitable industry.

Israel has attempted several times to relax its Gaza embargo – including a major effort at the beginning of this year, the Wall Street Journal reports. That has made it easier (though not easy enough, a U.N. commissioner complained) to obtain goods legally.

At the same time, the Post’s Scott Wilson reported in late 2012, smuggling has also become a more expensive enterprise. Tunnel-owners pay hefty taxes to Hamas and bear responsibility for tunnel collapses and worker injuries. Israeli jets have at times bombed the land above the tunnels in an apparent attempt to collapse them. Egypt, which historically often turned a blind eye to the smuggling, began flooding and closing tunnels down after an August 2012 incident that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, Reuters reports.

All that seems to be working out well for Colonel Sanders fans, however. According to the Monitor, smugglers in need of work will move a meal for roughly $20 to $30 -- down from $200 or more only three years ago. Unfortunately, the whole smuggling thing takes three hours, which arguably defeats the purpose of fast food.

Caitlin Dewey is The Post’s digital culture critic. Follow her on Twitter @caitlindewey or subscribe to her daily newsletter on all things Internet. (tinyletter.com/cdewey)
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