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Buckets of KFC smuggled under border

By Brad Lendon, CNN
updated 1:57 PM EDT, Thu May 16, 2013
Deliveries of KFC move through a tunnel beneath the Gaza-Egypt border this week.
Deliveries of KFC move through a tunnel beneath the Gaza-Egypt border this week.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Imports to Gaza under Israeli restrictions
  • There reportedly are no Western fast-food franchises in Gaza
  • Chicken smuggling helps tunnel operator through hard times, report says
  • Smuggling costs triple price of chicken, according to report

(CNN) -- A confluence of a hankering for fried chicken and hard times in the smuggling business means buckets of KFC are showing up on tables in Gaza.

The idea to get the American fast-food staple into the hands of hungry Gazans came from al-Yamama, a food delivery service that opened in the Palestinian territory a few years ago, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

When employees last month had a taste for some finger-lickin' good stuff, they called a friend just over the Gaza border in al-Arish, Egypt, and asked him to order some up. He did so and sent it to Gaza through one of the hundreds of tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border used to get goods into Gaza prohibited by Israeli restrictions, things such as weapons and cars.

The transfer of fried chicken from Egypt to Gaza took three hours, not exactly fast food, but good enough for a territory where there are no Western fast-food franchises, according to the Monitor report.

Their appetites sated, "We asked ourselves, 'Why don't we provide this service for Gazans?' " Mohammed al-Madani, the financial manager of al-Yamama, told the Monitor.

Besides satisfying the cravings for chicken, the underground not-so-fast food service proves a point, Khalil Efrangi, an entrepreneur who started al-Yamama, told The New York Times.

"I accepted this challenge to prove that Gazans can be resilient despite the restrictions," the Times quoted him as saying.

For the tunnel operators, fast food may help out with hard economic times. Israel has relaxed its embargo on Gaza, so more goods are getting through legitimately. And Egypt cracked down on the tunnels after 16 of its soldiers were killed in a raid on them last year, the Monitor reported.

So lower demand means lower prices.

"Bringing some meals like these would cost $200 or more three years ago, but now they don't even cost $20," tunnel operator Abu Iyad told the Monitor.

A bucket of chicken goes for about $30 in Gaza, about three times the price in Egypt, according to the media reports. Besides the chicken, fries, coleslaw and apple pie are available, according to the Times.

Al-Yamama promotes the service on its Facebook page and usually makes the runs under the border when it can get 30 or so orders to make things worthwhile, the Times reported.

And even if the chicken's a bit cold and the fries somewhat soggy, customers apparently aren't complaining.

Eating KFC "has been a dream," Rafat Shororo told the Monitor. "And this company has made my dream come true."

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