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You'll be surprised to see what Palestinians are smuggling into Gaza

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 17th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

When we think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we may think about people with conflicting ideologies fighting over territory, or fighting for revenge, or fighting for rights. We don't normally think about fighting over - chicken.

NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) - According to the New York Times, the Palestinians have many reasons to fight, and apparently Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of them. "It's our right to enjoy that taste the other people all over the world enjoy," Khalil Efrangi, 31, told the NYT.

The enterprising Efrangi started and underground fast food delivery service for Palestinians living in the Gaza strip.

The 140 square mile region on the border with Egypt is sealed off from the outside world. There are no fast food restaurants. However, Palestinians, just like people anywhere else in the world, enjoy fast food now and then and they are willing to pay for it.

Across the border in Egypt, there's plenty of fast food options. So, Khalil Efrangi decided to start a delivery service designed to smuggle fast food into the area from Egypt through secret tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip to the outside world.

There's definitely a market. A bucket of KFC costs us $11.50, Palestinians will pay $27 for it. These are the same Palestinians who sometimes lack basic humanitarian supplies including medicines. However, they will pay for a taste of the Colonel's secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.

To deliver a bucket of chicken requires multiple modes of transport including taxis, a motorbike, and a trek through an underground smuggling tunnel. The entire trip takes about 3 hours, so the food is hardly fast. However, it is a taste of the outside world for people who otherwise enjoy little variety in their diet.

Fadel Abu Heen, a professor of psychology at Al Aqsa University in Gaza City told the NYT, "The irregular circumstances in Gaza generate an irregular way of thinking. They think of anything that is just behind the border, exactly as the prisoner is thinking of anything beyond the bars."

This explains why some Palestinians may occasionally choose a bucket of chicken over medical supplies.

Efrangi says he makes about $6 per delivery in profit and has already made about 100 deliveries in the past month. When he gets too many calls to handle, he actually coordinates with Hamas officials to have more chicken delivered.

Hamas guards working checkpoints let him through, his bucket of KFC is his pass. The guards refer to him as "the Kentucky guy."

Efrangi says he limits the menu options to avoid special orders and mistakes. Customers can only order chicken pieces, fries, coleslaw, and apple pie for now.

According to the NYT however, Efrangi may not have his business for long. An anonymous businessman told the paper he is in the process of obtaining the licenses to build and import everything he needs to open his own KFC in Gaza.

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