National Geographic : 2012 Dec
• of Fatah and the Islamic Resistance Movement, better known as Hamas---or for Palestinians who've died in the ghting that has rocked this wisp of land since its creation 63 years ago. Now tunnel victims like Yussef---28 when he died--- are also honored. "Everybody loved him," Samir said. He was "so kindhearted." On the walls of the makeshi funeral parlor hung posters with Koranic verses of sympathy sent by the family that ran the grade school where Yussef had studied, by the imam of his mosque, and by the local functionaries of Gaza's bitter political rivals: Fatah, the former ruling party, and Hamas, the militant group that now governs the strip. e most prominent poster was from the local mukhtar, a traditional Arab leader. It showed Yussef in a photograph taken ve months earlier, on his wedding day. He was wearing a white dress shirt and a pink tie. He had short-cropped hair and eager, gentle eyes. e poster read, " e sons of the mukhtar share condolences with the family in the mar- tyrdom of the hero Yussef." e Rafah underground isn't new---there have been smuggling tunnels here since 1982, when the city was split following the 1979 Egypt- Israel Peace Treaty, which le part of it in Gaza and part in Egypt. Back then the tunnel well sha s were dug in home basements. e Israeli military, knowing that the tunnels were used for arms tra cking, began demolishing homes that harbored tunnels, as did some Palestinians who THIS GAZAN UNIVERSITY STUDENT works in a tunnel, hauling goods to earn money for tuition. Many workers put in 12-hour shifts six days a week---or more---in the cramped spaces. Gas explosions, electrocutions, and Israeli air strikes are common.