Outlaws: KFC in the Strip

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The deadline for placing orders on the delivery service’s Facebook page is 6:00pm on Wednesdays. A call is then made to a coordinator on the Egypt side of the border, and money gets wired to the recipient. An Egyptian cabdriver shows up to pick up the orders then receives a call from his Palestinian counterpart on the Gaza side of the border. The Palestinian cabdriver, known as The Kentucky Guy, tells the Egyptian cabdriver which tunnels Hamas has cleared for transport. The Egyptian then brings the orders to the couriers waiting for him. The kids, pushing carts whose contents are wrapped in plastic, make their way through the half-mile tunnel and meet The Kentucky Guy, who pays them, then argues about tip. The deliveries are loaded into the trunk of The Kentucky Guy’s Hyundai, and he sets off, bound for Gaza City where the deliveries are separated and loaded onto motorbikes that scatter and speed towards their destinations.

A lion, a bride in her wedding dress, an SUV, guns, cigarettes, chocolates, and iPads have all made their way through the tunnels bridging Egypt’s Sinai and the Gaza Strip. Now, as a result of the ingenuity and efforts of Palestinian entrepreneur Khalil Efrangi, chicken, cole slaw, and apple pie from KFC can make that trip as well.

The fried chicken is cold and the fries are soggy by the time they arrive at the homes of Gazans willing to pay double the price Egyptians pay for the same food, but the “fast” food sates a dual hunger. The KFC is sustenance of a sort, but it is also a piece of the outside that Gazans have managed to bring through the blockade and to their homes. A soggy, but satisfying taste of the world beyond the border.

The business has survived an offensive against the tunnels launched by Egypt, an easing of the Israeli blockade, and attendant drops in prices, but Efrangi’s greatest challenge yet could come from another Palestinian businessman, Adeeb al-Bakri, who owns four KFC and Pizza Hut franchises in the West Bank and who has his eyes set on another in Gaza.

Featured photo from James.

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