Palestinian smugglers are using a network of tunnels dug under the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt to bring a new flavor to the Israel-blockaded enclave: fried chicken from U.S. fast-food chain KFC.
Since Israel tightened a blockade on the coastal territory six years ago, Palestinians have used the tunnels to smuggle everything from fuel to livestock- and even cars- from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
Now, a Gaza-based delivery service company known as Yamama, or pigeon, has taken to delivering Kentucky Fried Chicken all over the Gaza Strip.
Yamama's motorcycle couriers ride to the Egyptian border, pick up the chicken from one of the tunnels, and deliver it to customers.
The meals are made at KFC stores in various cities throughout the Sinai Peninsula, because there are no KFC restaurants in Gaza. A KFC restaurant opened last year in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Israel tightened a blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after the militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from secular Fatah rivals, who govern the West Bank.
"Anyone who wants to eat real Kentucky Fried Chicken can call our office in Gaza, give his name and his telephone number and say exactly how many meals he wants," said Ibrahim, a Yamama motorbike rider.
Yamama's owners said the new business began by accident when the company's motorbike riders offered to order KFC meals.
"It usually takes three hours for the meal to be brought from Egypt to Gaza and less than an hour to bring it from the tunnel and give it to the customer," Ibrahim said.
The company has a website (http://www.ymama.ps) featuring pictures of Egyptian fast food. It also has a page on Facebook, where customers can place orders for KFC deliveries the next day.
But the lengthy delivery time, sometimes prolonged by Hamas inspections or holdups on the Egyptian side, takes its toll.
"It is really very delicious although it is not very hot," said Eyad, a 21-year-old Gaza student.
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