Hamas’ Secret Tunnels
During my years in Cairo, Egypt, I discovered, from speaking to many people in the business of business — including policemen, military officers, and Bedouins in the Sinai area — about the intricate tunnels built by Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Due to the siege and blockade, the tunnels serve as a means of livelihood.
The smuggling of goods from food, cigarettes to military equipment is unbelievable. If you can’t picture it, imagine the underground world built by Mr. Toad’s critter friends in The Wind in the Willows. In writing my novel, I created a tunnel route in which a messenger travels from Egypt to Palestine before connecting to Jerusalem. This is one of my favorite scenes where I tried to invoke the sinister and tense atmosphere to give the reader an exact feel of what it would be like to be a Palestinian trying to infiltrate Israeli borders.
The question is, did I imagine the route, did someone draw it for me or was I given a tour?
When I had finished writing the manuscript of my thriller novel, Smokescreen, I made the mistake of giving it to a relative of mine to read. Unfortunately, he did not share my enthusiasm about many things.
“Far-fetched,” he said, particularly the idea of a secret cave underneath the island of Singapore. I was bothered by the comment, but after a day of brooding, I realized that the opinion of one person, two, three or even five million should not matter or get in the way of my imagination. So I kept the cave scene. And I was thankful that I trusted my gut feeling.
A few months down the road, The Straits Times, the island’s daily newspaper, ran a front page story about a rock cavern being built in the ground off a smaller island on the western coast of Singapore. This cave, commonly known as the Jurong Cavern, will be the first underground oil storage facility. In fact, it is much more deeper than I had even imagined.
While my cave stored something else in the story (needless to say why I can’t tell you more …), I scanned the newspaper article and emailed it to this relative of mine, just to make sure he did not miss the story. Strangely, he did not reply to the email. I wonder why? [Photo: Glenn Van Zutphen]