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20 May, 2013

Gaza: We will keep coming back – Al-Ahram Weekly

By Bill Dienst

I’ve been coming to Gaza for a long time. My first was in 1985 and this is now my seventh trip to the region. In the 1980s, there were no substantial physical barriers between Gaza and Israel. Many Gazans worked as day labourers in Israel and many spoke Hebrew. Group taxis travelled freely between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and directly into Gaza City.

The society here in Gaza was much more Westernised and secular than it is today. Women wore blue jeans and ponytails; the hijab and the niqab were not nearly as ubiquitous as they are today. It was hardly a perfect relationship between Israelis and Palestinians; more of a privileged class and servant class based on the birth right of whether or not one was born Jewish. But there was abundant interaction between the two societies back then.Then came the first Intifada and thereafter the Oslo “peace process” which was really a “piece process”. This culminated in the division of the two societies and the isolation of Gaza from the rest of the world. There was false hope then and a second Intifada. Gaza was locked down as a consequence and became the world’s largest prison.

Read the rest: Gaza–We-will-keep-coming-back – Al-Ahram Weekly.