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The Gaza Strip has received its first car shipment in three years, after an economic blockade left the territory devoid of goods like cars, unless they were smuggled in via illegal tunnels originating in Egypt.
The cars, mostly Hyundai and Kia models, are a mixture of new and used models that have come from Israel. Cars, including Hyundais, can be sold for vastly inflated prices in Gaza, which has been hit by sanctions after Hamas, an Islamic fundamentalist government, took control of the territory.
Despite the grinding poverty, it turns out that a portion of the population can afford to buy new cars, as evidenced by this video, showing a Chevrolet Cruze going for $45,000.
For all the scare-mongering you see on the evening news, the most interesting thing about my trip to the West Bank was seeing some Palestinian hoonage undertaken by a couple youths in a beat-up Toyota. It was nothing more than some peel-outs and a poor attempt at doing donuts, but it was cool to see that enthusiasm for cars exists even when hope for a better future is dim. For residents of the Gaza Strip however, obtaining a car is a massive undertaking in itself.
Blockaded by both Israel and Egypt (the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas administers the territory, and is a common enemy of both countries), the basic necessities of life are hard to come by. This video, shot by the BBC, shows a bulldozer pulling a Hyundai Elantra into the Gaza strip through an underground tunnel – the only way it could be imported. With about 200 cars on the road, the Elantra should stand out. Interestingly enough, a similar car is only $7000 cheaper inside Israel, perhaps owing to the high taxes on vehicles in the country.
[Source: BBC News]
“Is that hashish in your race suit, or are you happy to see us?” was probably what Spanish police said to drug smugglers at the helm of a fake Dakar rally truck. The graphics-laden and off-road prepared truck had blended in with support trucks along an official rally route, in hope of delivering its load to the Spanish island of Ibiza in time for the summer party season.
Just what did police find? More than 1,760 lbs (800 kg) of cocaine, 15,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, guns, and $64,000 U.S. in cash.
“The vehicle had been totally transformed to adapt it to its supposed participation in the competition as a support truck, with publicity and logos of the event painted on its side,” read a police statement.
Its drivers were fully kitted out in race suits, with official-looking route maps and race documents to hide their motives. In total, seven suspects have been arrested, all from Spain.
Since we have no footage of the criminals in action, after the jump we’ve placed a video of a Kamaz Dakar truck hooning in the snow with ex-F1 driver David Coulthard at the wheel.
*Note: the above image is of a Dakar support truck, not the actual one used in the case.