Gaza’s airport, once a symbol of statehood, is now a wasteland

Gaza airport (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

By Ahmad Kabariti in Mondoweiss on 

At 8:50 a.m., I stopped a taxi in western Gaza City and asked the driver to go to the airport. The driver gazed at me as I sat next to him. He said: “Which airport? Do you mean the Cairo one?” I replied: “To the Gaza airport. Go to Rafah now, please.”

Muhsin al-Balawi, the 23-year-old driver, may have been right to be extremely perplexed over my query. He had never been an airplane passenger. He was born three years before the airport opened in 1998.

After 40 minutes of driving south on Salah al-Din Road, the main thoroughfare in the Strip, we hit the end of the asphalt road. Hundreds of yards further stood the departures terminal, which was surrounded by hills made of household waste. 

Bombed runway, 2008, photo by NASA

Everything across this 690 acres stretch of semi-desert field was lifeless. A stench from a ripped apart donkey’s corpse filled the air​​. I was sure I will never visit this place after dark.

This arid zone was once the first airport for Palestinians in Gaza, a step towards a dream of independent state. In 2000, during the events of the Intifada, Israel bombed the control tower, then the runway, and finally the elegant Moroccan-inspired terminals. In 2001, Israeli army bulldozers flattened what remained….

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

Dashed dreams: How Gaza’s short-lived airport never took off” 

In a historic December 1998 trip, President Bill Clinton cut the ribbon at a ceremony for the Gaza’s International Airport alongside Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Stephen Jaffe/Getty

Leave a Reply