Hamas Digging New Smuggling Tunnels

Along the border where Gaza meets Egypt, the clearing up operation is in full swing. But the men aren't re-building their homes. They're getting back to business: the tunnel building business, CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports.

One of the prime objectives of the Israeli assault on Gaza was to destroy the tunnel system Hamas used to smuggle in weapons.

Israeli warplanes dropped more than 100 tons of explosives along a mile-long section called Salahadin's Gate. That's its official name. But everyone knows it as "the city of tunnels."

The ground underneath where Pizzey stood to report is honeycombed with them. The Israelis claim to have destroyed as many as 300, but no one knows how many there really are.

And new ones are being dug.

One group of men estimated it will take them from two to four months to burrow the 500 or so yards to the other side of the Egyptian border.

Any chance of the ceasefire lasting depends on Egypt stopping Hamas from smuggling in weapons.

Because of an Israeli blockade, the tunnels are Gaza's economic lifeline too.

"Hamas have their own tunnels," stall owner Mohammed Athem says through a translator. "Most of the others belong to merchants who bring in things for the people."

And at the end of each commercial tunnel is an Egyptian businessman who splits the profits from food to clothing to household goods and electronics.

It's a desperate economy and high profits coupled with Hamas stated determination to re-arm means that tunneling will remain big business - even at the risk of more air strikes.
  • Allen Pizzey

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