WHEN Mohammed Sawiri was rich, he bought his lover a cellphone so they could secretly text. He was a “tunnel millionaire,” one of the thousands of Palestinians who became wealthy overnight, by Gaza standards, earning $18 a day hauling goods through one of the hundreds of passageways under the border between Gaza and Egypt.
The high school dropout was 17 when he began working in a tunnel. Now, at 23, Mr. Sawiri sells 25-cent cups of tea, Turkish coffee and Nescafé in a Gaza park, facing an ice cream shop where he once ate $1.25 vanilla ices. On a good day, he makes $5, and instead of texting his lover, he slips her letters.
The New York Times has a new hero.