The negative ramifications of the creation of nation-states resulting in the assignment of arbitrary borders, walls and international border crossings are most vivid, obvious and ridiculous in the city of Rafah. It is an ancient city with a rich history that was divided by the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty separating Egypt and Palestine. This thesis is concerned with how Rafah operates as a divided border town and the illicit tunnels that are used between Gaza and Egypt. It focuses on Egyptian policies towards the tunnels, how they are implemented by Egyptian border officials and how people experience and are affected by these border policies. The discussion is of a border town-space which highlights the resilience of Palestinians and Egyptian Bedouin in the Northern Sinai-Gaza region, despite policies of internal colonialism, in terms of marginalization, siege, closure, social, political, economic inequality as well as the lack of accountability and transparency of Egyptian public policy in border relations. I assessed the informality of the international border in Rafah with a particular focus on the tunnel phenomenon. This thesis relies heavily upon a combination of oral history on personal opinions and experiences, news reports, documentaries and interviews. It is not known when the first tunnel was created, or its purpose; nor are there any firm estimates of how many tunnels have been started, completed, exist or function. On this, there are only educated guesses. This thesis attempts to unpack the tunnel industry and evaluate the lives of those Egyptians who support the Palestinians in Gaza via tunnel activity.


School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Degree Name

MA in Migration & Refugee Studies

Graduation Date

Spring 2011

Submission Date


First Advisor

Jureidini, Ray

Committee Member 1

Ullah, Ahsan

Committee Member 2

Ghoneim, Ahmed


118 leaves

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item