National Geographic : 2012 Dec
at the destruction," he said, shaking his head. "Everything. Everything is...destructed." "De- structed" is a favorite malapropism of Ayman's. It's apt. "Destroyed" doesn't quite capture the quality of ruination in Gaza. "Destructed," with its ring of inordinate purpose, does. As we arrived in Rafah, life teemed again. A byword for con ict, Gaza is also synonymous in Middle Eastern memory with that other staple of human history, commerce. Armies marching into the desert depended on its gushing wells and fortress walls, but to merchants through the millennia, Gaza was a maritime spur of the spice routes and agricultural trade. Travelers sought out its cheap tobacco and brothels, and even to- day Israeli chefs covet its strawberries and quail. From the 1960s to the late 1980s, Gaza and Israel enjoyed a symbiotic commercial relationship not unlike that of Mexico and the U.S. Gazan cra smen and laborers crossed the border ev- ery morning to work in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, while Israelis shopped in the tax-free bazaars of Gaza City, Khan Younis, and especially Ra- fah, which some old Gazans still call Souk al Bahrain: "the market of the two seas." e rst intifada, which lasted from 1987 to 1993, put an end to much of that. Passing a jammed intersection overlooked by a Hamas billboard showing a masked mili- tant wielding a bazooka, we entered the Rafah market. e din and fumes of generators com- mingled with the shouts of vendors, the braying THE PLACARD NOTES that Allah will reward those who are patient. The young men are Salafi jihadists with one or more of the radical Islamic splinter groups that call for armed struggle against non-Muslims. They gathered in support of the uprising in Syria.