Middle East A Land That History Forgot

Ruled by Israel, Gaza becomes the refuge of the dispossessed

On the road that leads to Gaza, a gaudily lettered arch greets travelers with the word WELCOME. But the sights hardly beckon. Watchful Israeli soldiers stand guard as men in gallabiyas ply the road on two-wheeled donkey carts and women in white gauze veils trail their robes through the dust. Melons are sold amid reeking garbage. Rusting wreckage litters the roadsides. The stench of rot and waste is unescapable. Gaza looks like what it is: the last refuge of the dispossessed.

Gaza has never been anything but occupied territory, in thrall for 500 years to the Ottoman Empire, then to Britain,...