How To See Palestine: An ABC of Occupation

G is for Gaza

The road to Gaza goes through bucolic wheat fields, fringed with olive trees like anywhere else in the Mediterranean. And then you come over a rise and there it is, the impossible sight of Gaza, like nowhere else. A low, grey smudge on the horizon at the end of a country road seen through a gap in the trees.

We drive further down the road. A checkpoint comes into view, so forbidding that we turn immediately and head in the opposite direction. We give some IDF hitchhikers a ride to ask if we are allowed down there. They are appalled: 'forbidden zone!'

We continue to circumnavigate the forbidden city. It takes about 15 minutes, driving at moderate speed, to travel its length. 1.8 million people live in the strip, mostly under 18. Each minute that we drive we pass 100,000 people.

To the north of the city, we visit the Erez checkpoint, which is dramatic in size with a steel-and-glass atrium built by the Emirates. It's almost totally deserted, except for a few middle-aged men passing slowly through.

Turning back, we head down another back road to encounter an American-style housing development for seniors, complete with golf carts for local transportation and grandparents taking children for walks.
Only the view that's available from their green walkways is Gaza, seen through razor wire and a chain-link fence.

The first word that pops into my mind is 'surreal.' Then I reflect that the anti-colonial Surrealists were simply describing colonial reality as they experienced it. These impossible sights are the colonial reality of the twenty-first century.

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