UPDATE 7 pm Israel time Thursday:
A building in Moshav Bnei Netzarim–along the Egyptian border in the Negev–was just hit by rifle fire from the Sinai fifteen minutes ago.
What do cigarettes, Egyptian security officials, and Kentucky Fried Chicken have in common?
It was announced yesterday that the New York state attorney general, working in conjunction New York City police department, had arrested 16 members of Hamas and Hezbollah. These terrorists were part of an elaborate smuggling ring which had bought over one million cartons of tax free cigarettes from the southern U.S. and then transported them to New York where they were sold at vastly increased prices.
The millions of dollars of profit were then funneled to Lebanon and Gaza to fund Hezbollah and Hamas.
Closer to Israel, three Egyptian policemen and four Egyptian army officers were riding early this morning in two taxis from El-Arish to the Rafah Crossing when the taxis were stopped and the Egyptians were kidnapped.
Hamas in Gaza has issued a ludicrous statement saying that it is increasing monitoring of the smuggling tunnels to make sure the seven Egyptians are not smuggled into Gaza to be held for ransom there. Why is it ludicrous? Because every indication is that they were Palestinian Hamas terrorists who kidnapped the Egyptians in the first place.
Where does the money from such endless kidnappings go? Straight into the coffers of Hamas.
Your humble servant wonders if the same taxis that were ferrying the Egyptian security officials were not also ferrying Kentucky Fried Chicken.
A report this morning details the unbelievable story of how the al-Yamama KFC store in El Arish takes orders from Gaza and then delivers the food.
First the order is phoned in; then it is filled and put into a taxi to be taken from El Arish to Rafah. Once in Rafah, the chicken is handed off to a local smuggler who smuggles the chicken through a tunnel into Gaza–and on into the waiting arms of the customer.
According to al-Yamama, because of the increased risks (unreliable taxi service, Hamas men grabbing the chicken–and taking a “piece” of the action–at the entrance to and exit from the tunnels, Israeli planes bombing the tunnels), it is being forced to charge a $30 delivery charge. But business is booming with more than 24 deliveries in the last month. As Aboud Fares, a 22 year old Gazan student puts it: “It’s delicious even though it’s not hot.”
Of course, everyone knows that Hezbollah and Hamas are heavily involved in smuggling drugs from South America to North America, and from Lebanon into neighboring Arab countries and Europe.
Their smuggling empire is so vast as to almost defy description–the cigarettes in New York, the Egyptians in the Sinai, and KFC in Gaza are just small blips on the smuggling radar screen.