National Geographic : 1996 Sep
Old beyond their years SQUALOR and shell-shocked children are commonplace in Gaza. This is especially true in refugee camps like Shabura (left) or Shati (below), where flat stones are all that stand between toddlers and an open sewer in the middle of the road. Neighborhoods like these are where the intifada-the Pales tinian uprising against Israeli military occupation-was born. In those street battles kids were often frontline troops. Today 52 percent of Gaza's population is under the age of 14, and most families have a lot of children. In Shati camp I visited the al-Abed family (below, left), whose eight kids sleep in one room. Family albums in Gaza are an extraordinary thing. They're not like photo albums in other parts of the world, where you see the wedding, the baptism, the birthdays. In Gaza you see the wedding, but then on the next page you see the boy who was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers. Or the cousin who was a suicide bomber.