Where the Sidewalk Ends
Yesterday, after a trip around Bait Hanun with fellow journalists to speak to newly elected Hamas officials as well as people and gunmen on their thoughts, we headed to the Erez Crossing. My colleagues needed to head back to Jerusalem where they were based.
I hadn’t been to Erez in a while, namely because there is no point. I am not allowed to travel to the West Bank, let alone Israel, based on some arbitrary decision of some security official in the Israeli security matrix. Or maybe not so arbitrary. The point is, as I got out of the taxi, and looked down the long, turnstile filled corridor modeled after a cattle shed, I realized that for me, this is, as Shel Silverstein put it, Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Going to Erez always serves as a stark reminder of what Gaza has become, because it is sometimes easy to forget when you are trapped inside the snow globe that there is a glass dome surrounding you; it starkly reminds of the limits and the absolute control I am subject to; of the fact that I am a prisoner in my own land; that I am deprived of that most basic of human rights: freedom.
In the distance, I could see the village of al-Siyafa, living under the terror of the newly formed no-gone zone. Any movement can be deadly for these residents, who for five years lived sandwiched between settlements and captive to fear. Their movement is limited during the day and they do not move at all in the dark. Meanwhile, construction continues of a concrete wall north of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia, where the borders are also being reinforced with the placement of new military bases and observation towers. The eastern part of Beit Hanun was also declared a closed military zone last week, and the Israelis say anyone getting within 150 metres will be shot.
Welcome to the new, improved Gaza.