Cartografia crítica de la ciudad dividida de Rafah en la frontera de Egipto y Gaza, donde un sistema clandestino de tuneles constituye una parte de la linea de la vida para 1,5 millones de palestinos sometidos a un bloqueo y asedio brutal.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip—I live alone in my office. My wife and two young children moved in with her father after our apartment was shattered. The neighborhood mosque, where I have prayed since I was a child, had its roof blown off. All the government buildings on my beat have been obliterated.
After days of Israeli shelling, the city and life I have known no longer exist.
Gaza City, with some 400,000 people, stopped supplying water when the fuel ran out for the power station driving the pumps. We listen to battery-run radios for news, even though the outside world watches what's happening to us on television. The Hadi grocery where we once shopped is closed. Food is scarce all ov... [Extend]
The guy with sunglasses seated in front of me is young, may be 30 years old. He is the contact between Egyptian intelligence and people who intend to enter into Gaza.
Another guy, older, too with sunglasses and wearing a black coat, surely from intelligence, is listening without saying anything.
I'm inside a little office at the entrance at the Rafah gate, on the Egyptian side. I'm trying to convince them to let me get through the border.
The guy nods his head. We are so many to do this. We all want to go inside Gaza, but since Monday morning, the access is limited to the humanitarian aid, the ambulances and to the doctors, the nurses and the medics who have the right letter from their embassies or their Egyptian organization.
When Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, the city of Rafah was suddenly split, between Egypt and Gaza, by an immense metal and concrete wall. Families found themselves divided by a high-security international border, though their houses often lay less than 100m apart.
Before long, influential families moved their business underground, through dozens of secret tunnels burrowed below the Israeli border fence.
Everything moves through Rafah’s tunnels: from cigarettes and drugs to cash and people. It is a vast enterprise, and pays five times an average annual Gaza salary in one month. It is a family business, passed on from father to son and alw... [Extend]
FOR MANY THE NAME Rafah evokes an image of poverty and despair. It has been called the last city of Gaza, "the place at the end of the world". Once the entry and exit point to Palestine from Egypt, the city suffered tremendous hardship during nearly four decades of Israeli occupation.
It was mainly only aid workers, solidarity volunteers and journalists that ventured to the town. Most Palestinians have never been to Rafah, nor are they likely to go there, it is too far and too isolated and, in any case, most are not allowed to cross the Israeli corridor from the West Bank to get there. But on 25 November 2005, good news finally came to Rafah and that date will henceforth be marked as the one on which the first modern Palestinian border-crossing was opened. For the... [Extend]
As I write, we can hear the dull thud of explosions in the distance. Israeli airstrikes continue to blast targets in southern Gaza. Merciless bombing of the small Gaza Strip continues into a third week. I heard some people here in Egypt wonder if the Israeli Air Force must be running out of places and people to target. But perhaps the surveillance drones we heard and saw flying over the Rafah border crossing today hunted down more spots on which bombers could fix their cross-hairs. Perhaps they spotted underground tunnels. The Israeli government has, reportedly, already destroyed 80% of the tunnels that connect Gaza with the outside world. It's common knowledge that a vast network of tunnels, some say as many as 1700, were constructed, many from outside Gaza's territorial borders... [Extend]