Uniformed officials scream at a desperate group of men and women trying to force their way into an indoor football stadium in the Gaza town of Rafah on the border with Egypt.
The men and women are desperate because they have effectively won the lottery – a chance to leave Gaza for Egypt – and they do not want to miss the bus. And it is literally a bus.
Tens of thousands of people are waiting for their names to be called for travel. But their numbers will be pitifully small. A few hundred people are waiting today but most of them won’t cross.
The crossing to Egypt was closed for 329 days last year. It is open now for Ramadan, a gesture by the Egyptian government after the violence here in recent weeks, but it is only for a few.
I met Noura el Shawa waiting in the queue. An accountant, she and her family have been given their travel papers to go to Morocco, their family home. They have waited 18 months for their papers to be processed.
She says the family want the right to cross borders in the same way that we in the West take for granted every time we go on holiday abroad.
“We need rights, we need life, we need normal life,” she says, breaking off to argue with yet another official.
“I love my country so much, I love it.
“But I like going outside to have fun, to refresh my mind – but this is my country, I will come home.”
Getting to the bus is a dreadfully bureaucratic system and any issues with the paperwork are punished with a flat and immediate rejection.
The stadium is full of people arguing with tears running down their cheeks as some members of the family are allowed to pass and others are not.
Once through, they are crowded into buses. Three were due to cross the border today. We only saw one actually make it.
Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for a decade. There are two million people living on a strip of land about 30 miles long and five miles wide. A colleague described it perfectly as an “open air prison”.
Ramadan in Gaza has a special quality, they say here, compared to anywhere else in the world. I’m not qualified to judge but I think it is because they are all confined and all observe the daily fasting together. Certainly nobody I saw drank, ate or smoked anything before the fast broke at sunset.
It is a deeply religious time, of course, but in the mosques they are preaching the need to support the Hamas-led campaign of protest against the blockade that focuses on the Israeli border fence; protests that have led to thousands of injuries and more than 100 people shot dead.
We visited the ancient mosque in Gaza City where the head of Hamas promised the protests would go on and grow.
But not all those attending prayers are convinced it is the right thing at all.
Rajaee El Jaro is a musician and owns a shop selling musical instruments and camera equipment. He is young, learnt his perfect English from listening to music and believes he has a future through protest of the non-violent kind.
“My music will be more important than all the violence,” he told me as we walked through the ancient streets of Gaza City.
“We can’t win like that, the Israeli power and grip is too strong.”
But he understands why the protests are growing in support.
“People are willing to go there because they have reached the limit. They are willing to die in order to retrieve any simple kind of dignity. In my personal opinion this is crazy. I’m not going to go there, to be honest with you. This is suicide.
“I am a person, a feeling, a being, not a statistic,” he said.
But hundreds, maybe thousands of people did turn out for the latest protests.
It soon turns into a familiar fiery stand-off.
Young men slinging stones across the border fence through burning tyres and the Israeli Defence Forces responding with tear gas. They have made it clear nobody can approach the fence.
Groups of women gather together and hurl insults at the soldiers just metres away. Even the most recently shot are at the front, hobbling across the sand in crutches with their feet in bandages.
This was actually a quiet day. Bigger turnouts are promised by Hamas.
I spoke to a leading Islamic Jihad figure, Khaled El Batich, near the front of the protest.
He tried to argue that the protests are all peaceful and blamed the Israeli snipers for the violence. That is clearly not true but the world has criticised the Israeli Defence Force’s reaction to the protest as disproportionate.
“If the snipers do not shoot the people there is no danger,” he told me as dozens ran past us escaping CS gas.
“The people here, [it]was a peaceful demonstration. If the snipers stop the shooting over heads, there is no danger.”
I asked if people will try to breach the fence. “No no,” I was told.
Israel argues that is simply not true.
The point is that radical groups dominate politics here. But most of the people who live here are not radical. They are, however, poor and angry, and to a man and a woman they blame Israel.
I’ve visited Gaza many times but today more than ever it struck me that pretty much everyone I met, everyone I saw, everywhere in Gaza, will never leave this piece of land 30 miles long and five miles wide.
From – SkyNews