Why KFC is a Luxury in Gaza
By: Menal Maliki / Arab America Contributing Writer
Whenever someone thinks of prison, they imagine a person in an orange jumpsuit locked away in a tiny cell, with nothing but empty walls, an impending prospect of freedom, and a distilled notion of hope to bring them comfort. They are occasionally given a window, with natural sunlight, a reminder of the outside world. This window, though a luxury in prison is rather a taunt. The prisoner is deprived of freedom, the fresh air, the beams of sunlight are constant reminders of what he lost.
What if you were told that prison doesn’t always look like your typical tv style prison? Gaza is the biggest open-air prison, and it is a daunting scene. The purposes of prison are “retribution, incapacitation, and deterrence.” Gaza is a testimony of a people’s rebellion. The Palestinians living in the Gaza strip are kept in solitary confinement, they are isolated as Israel is in control of what enters and leaves the territory.
The Gaza Strip borders Egypt and Israel. It is what’s left of the British mandate of Palestine, and it is currently occupied territory and has been suffering from a blockade for more than a decade.
Since the 6-day War in 1967, otherwise known as the Nakba or Third Arab-Jew Israeli war, the Israeli militia had gained more territory. They had seized the old city of Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. The Gaza strip had gone from Egyptian occupation to Israeli, and the West Bank has gone from Jordan’s power to Israel’s.
The shift in power led to Gaza being under military occupation. A rise in contention, Palestinian rebellion, and overall violence has led Israel to heighten restrictions on border and security. This had forced Palestinians to depend on humanitarian aid for supplies, food, and water.
How many stories have you heard of Palestinians in Gaza, being deprived, or denied of basic human rights, such as medical attention, education, travel, the right of business? Palestinians living in Gaza aren’t allowed to fish past a certain point off their own coast.
They are even being deprived of something as small as fast food which is a huge luxury in Gaza. A Palestinian living in Gaza by the name of Mohammed Baraka details what he had to go through to satisfy his quench for American fast food. An article by Majd Waheidi Here’s what it takes to order KFC in Gaza, details the long-awaited and interesting trek, of a bucket of KFC fried chicken.
” At the end of their workday, laborers head to Ramallah to purchase KFC orders, crossing from Israel to the West Bank through the Qalandiya checkpoint.
After purchasing KFC in Ramallah, they take a minibus or a shared taxi to the Erez checkpoint.
After they exit the Israeli side at Erez, they enter a third checkpoint run by the Palestinian Authority.
From there, they take a yellow cab to the fourth checkpoint, run by Hamas. Security forces check the KFC meals by hand, but the overall process is pretty fast.
Once they pass through the final checkpoint, they take a cab to deliver the meals at a hookah store in Gaza city.
All this time, the customers are on their phones anxiously waiting for their KFC delivery. Cheetah Express receives questions like, “Will my food arrive cold or warm?” in its DMs.
The order finally gets delivered around 7 p.m., not very fresh and definitely cold.
The next morning at 7:30, the laborers will head back to Erez, possibly picking up more orders of fried chicken on their way back home. “
Though the delivery of his fast food was very long, and expensive, his vicious and unrelenting desire for this salty, crunchy, delicious goodness of Kentucky fried chicken was well worth the wait. Mohammed Baraka states, “I felt special because my meal traveled for miles and crossed several checkpoints,” (Waheidi).
In America, fast food is very accessible. If anything it is too accessible and it is something us, Americans take for granted. Who would have thought that we would take fast food for granted? Imagine paying triple price for our fried chicken and having it cross over miles and through several checkpoints. We can barely pick up our own fast food and we complain when it’s cold.
The desperation for fast food and basic items of necessity has led Palestinians to rely on smuggling. In 2013, it was reported that the people of Gaza have built a secret underground tunnel, to smuggle in KFC from Egypt (Akram). Though very poor, they must pay twice as much to have fast food delivered to them. Unemployment is rampant in Gaza, and it is restricted by intense security borders. The more Gaza resists and fights for independence, the more its neighboring counterparts tighten its border. They are restricted from attaining basic necessities like weapons, educational and medical supplies. They are even barred from attaining cigarettes, Apple products, and something as simple as candy (Akram). Here at times of desperation, they relied on Egyptians to smuggle goods through illegal tunnels in Rafah.
Of course, you ask why can’t they make their own fried chicken..well ask yourself the same question, why can’t you make it instead of buying it. Amongst many things, frying machines are hard to come across, and it need to be smuggled in. Delivery services are a rarity for Gazans, as are simple household goods. “The people of Gaza are being denied the enjoyment of basic human rights and freedom. Every day they are forced into higher levels of poverty, aid dependency, food insecurity, and unemployment,” (Akram).
Though Mohammed Baraka is able to order fast food, the coldness and sogginess are a taunt. It is a reminder that he is still in prison.
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Waheidi, Majd Al, et al. “Here’s What It Takes to Order KFC in Gaza.” Rest of World, 27 Apr. 2020, https://restofworld.org/2020/gaza-kfc-instagram/.
“Gaza Fishermen Shot by Israel Navy, Second Day in a Row.” Middle East Monitor, 9 Apr. 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200409-gaza-fishermen-shot-by-israel-navy-second-day-in-a-row/.
Akram, Fares. “Delivering KFC by Tunnel, Not Too Fast but Satisfying.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 May 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/world/middleeast/tunneling-kfc-to-gazans-craving-the-world-outside.html.
“What Are the Gaza Strip and the West Bank?” PCRF, https://www.pcrf.net/president-s-blog/what-are-the-gaza-strip-and-the-west-bank.html.
Purposes of Prisons. Stop the Crime., http://www.stoptheaca.org/purpose.html.