Gaza job, then?

THE GAZA strip - the most densely populated place on earth - is completely walled up. No one can get out or in without the Israeli army's blessing. This can make it hard to report what is going on inside.

A border crossing

A border crossing

At Erez crossing, the familiar military architecture looms: the hypermarket-sized car park, fibre-glass huts and metal scanning gateways, and 8-metre-high tomb-like concrete slabs marching across the horizon.

When I first arrived the crossing was closed because of an "operation" taking place just behind the wall. From where I was standing, next to a smiling plain clothes soldier lounging against his hut, this appeared to  consist of massive tank fire and screaming from behind the concrete slabs.

All the journalists waiting to get in to find out what was happening were left sitting under a sun-shade, listening to a war 200 metres away.

Later, I went to apply in advance for a pass to try again to enter Gaza. I brandished my International Press Card. I fluttered faxes commissioning me to report from Gaza. I pleaded. I was told that the Department of Public Affairs would run checks on me. When could I expect an answer? Not for ninety days. Was that a "no", then? "We'll tell you in ninety days". By which time, of course, the story had moved on and so had I.

  • Pennie Quinton was based in the West Bank compiling a report on alternative media in the occupied territories for Warwick University Business school.
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