In A Nutshell
With no franchise restaurants allowed in Gaza, sometimes the residents get an appetite for something they can’t easily get. Kentucky Fried Chicken tops the list of things these Palestinians have a hunger for, and ambitious smugglers made a business out of delivering KFC through the thousands of underground tunnels that formerly existed between Egypt and Gaza.
The Whole Bushel
Since the Hamas seized power of Gaza in 2007 and its borders were closed to Egypt and Israel, the Palestinians living within the territory have had a difficult time getting even seemingly ordinary items from the outside world. Naturally, people tend to want what they can’t have, which has led to some elaborate and rather unusual smuggling operations going into Gaza. Up until 2014, there were over 1,000 underground tunnels below the Gaza border, which smugglers used to deliver everything from guns to Belgian chocolate. However, one of the most surprising black-market items was battered and fried with 11 herbs and spices. Of course, we’re talking about Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Delivering the KFC was much more involved than simply buying the food in Egypt, walking through a tunnel, and giving it to a chicken-craving Palestinian. No, this “fast food” operation took four hours or more and without a doubt led to some less-than-crispy chicken and soggy French fries. Still, the KFC was in high demand and a few entrepreneurial Gazans were there to meet the need—one even advertised his smuggling business on Facebook.
Getting the chicken was a multi-step process. The customer would first need to contact a food delivery service and place his KFC order. The owner of the service would then make an international call to El Arish, Egypt to someone who could pick up the Egyptian KFC. After getting payment through wire transfer, the Egyptian would put the bucket of food on a taxi and send it to the smuggling tunnels. The KFC was then carried nearly a kilometer (0.5 mi) through the tunnel before reaching the other side and getting on yet another taxi, which would take the chicken to the food delivery service. The food service owner would give the chicken to one of his many delivery guys who would motorbike it to the original customer. This lengthy chicken transport came at a price, as the customers would end up paying twice the normal amount for their food.
Unfortunately for KFC-loving Palestinians, early in 2014, Egypt destroyed 1,370 smuggling tunnels that ran between its borders and Gaza. The action was meant to reinforce the Egyptian government’s opposition to the Hamas leadership and to put a stop to militant groups bringing arms and money into Gaza. Undoubtedly, this has slowed down KFC smuggling, but, when it comes to satisfying a hankering for fried chicken, where there’s a will there’s a way.