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Thursday, November 5

22,000 Palestinians were thrown out of work when Egypt shut down Gaza tunnels

And Middle East experts are still wondering what set off the "knife intifada."  As I noted in my October 13 post, Who's behind knife attacks on Israelis? Vengeful Palestinian smuggling gangs, the smugglers were hopping mad about the large number of tunnel closings but they couldn't very well (or very easily) launch attacks on Egyptian troops. 

However, I was unaware until I saw the following report that the Egyptian military was using seawater, although I should have thought of that option. But weeks before the knife attacks started, Malcolm Hoeinlein reported to John Batchelor that the Egyptian military was plugging the tunnels with sewer sludge and flooding others with water.  

The 22K statistic is from a Sputnik report today (based on a Reuters report), Egypt is Flooding Gaza Border Tunnels With Seawater, Poisoning Water Supply.
Egypt has been pumping salt water from the Mediterranean into Gaza's underground tunnels, which Cairo says have been used to smuggle weapons to Islamist insurgents in the Sinai desert.
At one point, an estimated 22,000 Palestinians worked in around 2,500 tunnels, bringing commercial goods mainly into Gaza. Weapons were smuggled in separate tunnels controlled by Hamas and other militant groups, Reuters reported.

But in September, while facing of an insurgency in northern Sinai, Egypt shut down the tunnels. In an effort to halt what it said was an arms flow in the opposite direction – from Gaza to the militants – Cairo started pumping water into the tunnels, collapsing the land.

Tunnel-builders said that since September, Egypt has done more damage to the tunnels than Israeli bombing had caused over the past two decades, Reuters reported. It is now thought that less than 20 tunnels remain, with cigarettes the main contraband taken across the border.

But more than destroying the tunnels, the flooding is contaminating water supplies and threatening to wreck farmland and spread disease, Palestinian officials say.
Surely Palestinian officials are aware that the aquifers under Gaza, what is left of them, were already poisoned because of over-pumping of the aquifers. See also Gaza’s high population strains water supply, May 31, 2015, Al-Monitor.  

As for the land collapse, over-pumping aquifers will do it, and add to that honeycombing the underground with tunnels.    

But that's all right; what did that Iranian reply when the New York Times Man in Tehran pointed out that he shouldn't be wasting water so flagrantly?  No worries, God has given the Iranians a huge well that never runs dry.

I don't suppose it's ever occurred to the Iranian that God might have left day-to-day matters on Earth to the gods, who become notoriously ill tempered when people go around smashing their shrines. Iran's religious police have destroyed a great many ancient shrines. When I learned that about 12 years ago, I said, 'Well there goes the water supply.'

Yes, God can provide, and so can the gods. But then again it depends.  

A Tibetan Buddhist monk, who in his childhood escaped Chinese-controlled Tibet, returned for a brief visit in the mid-1980s and came back with several photographs of his travels in Tibet. When I looked at one photograph I blurted, "I see a river flowing out of solid rock in that monastery."

Pleased that I'd noticed, the monk explained. Some centuries ago there was a Naga king who was a great admirer of a particular Buddhist monk who had very good character. The monk had his heart set on establishing a monastery at a particular site. However, there was no water in the region. When the king learned of the monk's wish he traveled to the site, transformed into a giant snake, then barreled headlong into a cliff face. Out gushed a river.  

The moral of the story is that you really don't have to believe in the gods -- or God, for that matter. The idea is to conduct yourself in such manner that the gods believe in you. Sainthood isn't the goal here. Sincere efforts are, with the emphasis on sincerity.

And be careful, hear? 

Once a visitor to Sathya Sai Baba's ashram asked him if there was anyone else on Earth who had his same powers. To the astonishment of the devotees present, Sai Baba replied that there was: a woman with a pushcart in Bombay.

He didn't say that she was a 'street person.' She might have sold fruit or trinkets from her cart. But try to imagine standing on the street next to some cart pusher who was carrying enough powers to crash the planet. 

I once worked for an American Franciscan nun who was the most ordinary person you could imagine, except for her Irish temper. That ill-tempered ordinary person saved me from certain death by the most extraordinary means. 

You just never know about people; understand? So be careful. If you don't need to step on someone's toes, don't. And don't go around smashing the old shrines.

Take a page from Ronald Reagan. Work up a little humility. When he was recovering from the gunshot wound, a Sai Baba devotee got some of Sai Baba's vibhuti to him. Reagan, a Christian, accepted the gift with thanks saying, "I need all the help I can get.' 

That's the spirit.   

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