The Secret War

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The Gaza Strip is like a giant prison.

Crossing the Eretz checkpoint feels more like entering a cellblock than crossing a border. Unlike the temporary feel of cement blocks and sandbags at the West Bank checkpoints, here there are permanent buildings and lanes for the few cars and pedestrians who cross. No one who lives here can get out, and only foreigners can get in.

More shocking is the poverty. Unemployment in Gaza is now sixty-seven per cent. Eighty per cent of the people live below the poverty line. Many children have no shoes. Almost all have bad teeth.

To add insult to poverty, 5,000 Israeli settlers illegally occupy almost one third of the land in Gaza. One million Palestinians share only 360 square kilometres of land, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world. There is no cinema, no theatre — no cultural life of any kind save television.

Water is also a problem. Across the Palestinian territories, three-quarters of renewable water resources are used by Israel. In Gaza, the best water is in the south, which is cut off from the north by a checkpoint that is usually closed.

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