On March 21, Egyptian bride Manal Abu Shanar (shown above) took an unusual route to her wedding in the Gaza Strip (map): a smuggler's tunnel.
Her Palestinian groom, Emad al-Malalha, told Reuters that Egyptian officials did not give Shanar permission to enter Gaza, part of the Palestinian territories, at a designated crossing point.
The couple resorted to their backup plan, the underground route. Hundreds of tunnels, up to half a mile (0.8 kilometers) long, burrow beneath the border of Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
The tunnels are part of an enormous illegal smuggling operation that imports food, medicine, and construction materials—as well as weapons and drugs—into the territory.
Smugglers have used the Gaza tunnels since at least 1982, when the city of Rafah was divided between Egypt and Gaza. Traffic increased after Israel instituted a restrictive blockade six years ago.
Now a lifeline for the residents of Gaza, the tunnel economy involves tens of thousands of people. As much as two-thirds of the region's consumer goods are brought through the tunnels. (See "The Tunnels of Gaza" in National Geographic magazine.)