The day Gaza got an airport and a presidential visit, fueling dreams of statehood

On Dec. 14, 1998, the Gaza International Airport’s inauguration symbolized potential progress toward Palestinian statehood, but today it lies in ruins.

Historical Background: In 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton attended the inauguration of the Gaza International Airport, which was seen as a symbol of potential statehood for Palestinians.
* The airport was a tangible result of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which were the basis for five years of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
* At the time, there was significant optimism among the Palestinian people and the international community about the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state.

A Changing Landscape: The early 2000s involved significant shifts in power within Gaza, particularly with the emergence of Hamas.
* Despite tensions and violence, including Israeli air strikes on Hamas leaders, there were also periods of intense cooperation such as Israeli workers commuting into Israel from Gaza.

Peak of Conflict: Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 following a five-year Palestinian uprising or intifada.
* However, by 2006, Hamas had won the Palestinian elections, leading to a series of conflicts with Israel.

Current Situation: Today, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern end of Gaza is often closed, while the Gaza International Airport has been shut down since 2001 due to fighting.
* Hamas remains in power, with conflicts occurring intermittently with Israel.

Final Note: Despite past optimism, the current Gaza reality offers little hope for a resolution with the region in constant turmoil and the Gaza International Airport, once a symbol of hope, now lies in ruins.

View original article on NPR
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