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Israel

Hope's Coffin

Israel did its best to keep me out of the Gaza Strip. Not just me—all international media. For two weeks, we watched from the Egyptian side of Gaza's southern border as plumes of smoke erupted from around Rafah, and the wounded trickled out, one by one, in battered Palestinian ambulances on their way to intensive care units in Cairo. Finally, in the last week of Operation Cast Lead, something gave, and the Egyptian government unexpectedly opened the gates.

Can't I just read in peace?

Elliott D. Woods, for the Pulitzer Center

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Fishing boats at anchor in Gaza's lone protected harbor, on the Mediterranean coast beside southern Gaza City. — Elliott D. Woods

Fringe Groups to Join Cairo Talks

Palestinian fringe movements will for the first time join major players Fatah and Hamas in Cairo this week to discuss a long-term cease-fire with Israel and the formation of a unified Palestinian government.

But the participation Thursday of senior cadres from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) may be a mixed blessing, because they are just as opposed as Hamas to recognizing the Jewish state.

Gazans See Little Reason to Hope

In the teacher's lounge at Al-Qahira Girls School, Nashwa Annan's exasperation was clear as she tried to convince her colleagues that there are no real differences between the main contenders for Israeli prime minister.

"For us, [Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Tzipi] Livni are just two sides of the same coin. It's just a question of who will kill more Palestinians," she said.

Gaza Faces Ice Age on Eve of Israeli Elections

“It doesn’t matter who wins in Israel, they are all the same to Gaza.”

Such was the sentiment of Said Sharafa, 26, a Gazan employee of DHL Express, with regard to upcoming Knesset elections in Israel. Sharafa’s statement points to a general sense of foreboding that overshadows an already dark horizon for Gazans, regardless of their political affiliation.

Gaza City Street Art

Elliott D. Woods, for the Pulitzer Center
Gaza City — Here are some photos of street art in Gaza City. The Fatah slogans are gone, they've been whitewashed and scribbled over with new Hamas slogans, but the face of Abu Amar — Yasser Arafat, grandfather of Fatah — still keeps watch over at least one corner in every neighborhood.

Speaking Urdu In Gaza

Asim Rafiqui in Gaza, for the Pulitzer Center

Are you from Pakistan?

I am not sure how he knew for we had not met nor spoken to each other.

I was just about the get up to leave Al-Awda mosque in Rafah, Gaza when a man sitting behind me introduced himself and asked if I was from Pakistan. Nothing about my appearance that day - I in my conventional trekking pants and checkered shirt, suggested my background.

How did he know?

Burnout.

Elliott D. Woods, for the Pulitzer Center

Gaza City — It's too early to start talking about burnout, but let's face it — it's already here. It's not just me, it's the whole of the Gaza Strip.