Why Do Gazan Tunnel-Diggers Talk to Reporters?

INSERT DESCRIPTIONA Palestinian in a tunnel between Gaza and Egypt. (Photo: Moises Saman/The New York Times)

A pair of recent articles — one in The New York Times and the other, a McClatchy report, in The Seattle Times — describe in close-up detail how Palestinians living in Gaza have gotten back to work digging tunnels that lead into Egypt. These tunnels, through which weapons and all other sorts of goods are smuggled, were one of the main targets of the recent Israeli assault on Gaza.

I understand why the Gazan tunnel diggers have gotten back to work. What I can’t understand is why they so openly describe and show this work to reporters working for American newspapers.

What is the upside in admitting it? Why publicize a secret activity that your enemy has sworn to punish? If I had just gotten out of jail for a certain crime, I wouldn’t invite a reporter to accompany me on my rounds as I tried to re-establish my criminal enterprise.

So what are the Gazans thinking? What are they trying to accomplish? To whom are they trying to send their strong signal of resistance? And what will be the ramifications?


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  1. William says:

    These tunnels are present. The Israeli military knows about them, the American papers know about them, and they will continue to get made as long as the marginal profits made by them over their lifetime is cheaper than the opportunity cost of building them, and they will be operated as long as the profits made by operating one is greater than the opportunity cost of operating one.

    I don’t think talking to reporters changes any of these facts. I think they’re simply trying to express to the world an aspect of their existence.

    Ramifications? Maybe Israel tries to stop the tunnels rather than attacking Gaza above-ground (or in addition to attacking Gaza above-ground).

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  2. Richard Klibaner says:

    Why do bank robbers boast to their buddies about the job they just pulled off? Why do mortgage brokers talk to radio reporters about how many deadbeats they managed to put into variable rate mortgages? First, they are proud of their accomplishments. Second, we are social animals and our default is to reply to the questions of anyone who appears interested in us. I think your question evinces an excessive faith in the economic/rational man model.

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  3. Charlie says:

    One thing confuses me about the so-called embargo. Why can’t Gazans bring in their legal goods via their border with Egypt? Is Egypt part of the embargo?

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  4. NM says:

    Your comparison with going to jail is both fitting and infuriating. Fitting, because Gaza is an open-air prison. And infuriating because it seems to imply that Gazans are guilty; they are not. They live under a murderous apartheid and blockade. Israel fires on the few fishing boats trying to venture in the mediterranean sea to get *food*.

    Weapons? Give me a break. Israel uses laser guided 1 ton bombs on civilians.

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  5. Gene says:

    It is entirely possible that Hamas, like al-Qaeda, is trying to use the media as their propaganda outlet. By showing reporters that they are still digging they are trying to prove to the rest of the Muslim world (specifically those who are marginalized and most likely to join their cause) that Israel has not been able to stop them, and as Mike above said, that the “injustice” of Israel’s actions should serve as a call to arms for new recruits to the Hamas cause.

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  6. P says:

    The answer is that the Gazans are very, very stupid.

    Almost as stupid as the commenters above making excuses for their barbaric behavior.

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  7. kip says:

    Or perhaps its propaganda: they want it to appear that they have more tunnels and numbers than they actually have.

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  8. anonymous says:


    The enemy is now busy looking for tunnels, while in reality the Gazans are building hot air balloons.

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