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A Palestinian man works at a tunnel used for smuggling goods into the Gaza Strip

A Palestinian man works at a tunnel used for smuggling goods into the Gaza Strip, which links Egypt to the southern Gaza town of Rafah in 2011. "If this closure continues it will be a disaster," says Abu Taha, who runs one of hundreds of cross-border smuggling tunnels that were closed after a deadly attack in the Sinai

Gaza's smuggling tunnels

Egypt's crackdown on smuggling tunnels along its

border with the Gaza Strip is making shortages ever tighter and has

forced the enclave's Islamist Hamas rulers to consider urgent

alternatives. Hamas officials asked Egypt late on Monday to consider

alternative trade routes, such as a free trade zone, a direct deal that

could boost Hamas tax revenues and circumvent rival Fatah's and Israel's

control of official imports to Gaza.