Ruairi Kavanagh, a journalist who specialises in security and military affairs, visits Kerem Shalom, the only currently functioning crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip and reports that the economic plight of the people of Gaza is a sub-plot of the current impasse between the Jewish State and the Hamas regime which governs Gaza that has repeatedly vowed to bring about the destruction of Israel.
The border crossing at Kerem Shalom is a tense place. The manager of the facility, Amos (not his real name), shows me around the tightly fortified plazas which are filled with trucks delivering cargo, which is then scanned and examined by teams of customs and security workers before, if allowed, being transferred to Gaza side of the crossing, which is run by Hamas. The fact that Hamas and Israel jointly run the crossing, albeit under a small UN monitoring presence, only adds to the surreal nature of the place, which is situated just a mere stone's throw from the Egyptian border.
The process of allowing goods into and out of the Gaza Strip is a tightly orchestrated and seemingly fluid affair. A truck arrives, its goods are unloaded. They are then examined by the Israelis for banned items of 'dual purpose', such as building materials destined for private companies in Gaza. Approved items, the list of which the Israelis say has greatly increased, are then loaded onto a sterile truck and driven to another plaza where they are then loaded onto another truck for delivery into Gaza itself. Walls and barriers, and weapons, are everywhere in Kerem Shalom. Human contact is minimal but according to Amos, this is the way it has to be and this is the way it works.