Perspective

The Gaza Strip is in the news again:

“RAFAH, Gaza Strip, Jan. 23 — Gunmen destroyed vast sections of the seven-mile-long barricade that divides the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Wednesday, allowing tens of thousands of Palestinians to stream across the border and revel in a day away from a territory where Israeli restrictions have stifled the economy and caused blackouts and food shortages.

Jubilant Gazans flooded unhindered into Egypt, then hauled back purchases ranging from cigarettes and diesel fuel to goats, cows and camels. Other Palestinians walked for miles along Egyptian roads until their enthusiasm subsided and they sank, exhausted, onto curbs to rest.”

Its easy to skip through stories like this; it seems like I’ve been reading about troubles in Gaza my whole life. And I’m sure I’ve read the dismal demographics before, too:

“The Gaza Strip now has one of the highest population densities in the world: Almost 1.5 million people live within its 146 square miles. Eighty percent of Gazans live below the poverty line. “

How crowded is that? For perspective I decided to google some local geography for comparisons. As it happens Gaza is virtually the same size–in square miles—as a place I’ve been many times, Portland, Oregon. Except Portland is home to only one-third as many people, 537,000. There’s no blockade of course. As for poverty in Gaza, I’m suspect there’s nothing in Portland to compare it to.

Gaza. It just sounds like the place is ready to explode.

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