Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Crime & Punishment in the Gaza Strip

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[MODEM CONNECTING]

SUROOSH ALVI: We're at the Erez crossing, which is where

you enter Gaza from.

So apparently, when you go into Gaza, you have to walk

until you get to the first town there.

And--

[GUNFIRE]

SUROOSH ALVI: And apparently, that walk is

very dangerous, because--

[GUNFIRE]

SUROOSH ALVI: Because you can get shot.

It's been brothers killing brothers over there, Hamas and

Fatah, fighting over control of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas declared victory.

Hamas is saying, you know, enough with moderation.

It's time to create a proper Islamic state.

We are driving through the Sinai Peninsula on our way to

the Gaza Strip.

In 2007, we were filming in Israel and we tried to access

the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing.

We couldn't get in.

It was sealed off.

Four years later, we are now accessing the Gaza Strip

through Egypt, through the Rafah crossing.

After the Egyptian Revolution, the crossing was opened up.

The people wanted to support the Palestinians inside the

Gaza Strip.

They've been under a blockade by air and by sea.

It's been inaccessible, sealed off to the outside world.

So it's finally open now, and we're going to go in and see

what life is like for the people of the Gaza Strip

underneath Hamas rule.

[HORN HONKING]

SUROOSH ALVI: Now even though the Rafah crossing is open, it

doesn't make getting in any easier.

MALE SPEAKER 1: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

SUROOSH ALVI: When we got to the entrance, it was a jammed

mess of suitcases and people screaming to get in.

MALE SPEAKER 2: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

SUROOSH ALVI: With our passports and a little bit of

patience, we eventually pushed through the chaos, slipped

through the gate and into the clearing.

SUROOSH ALVI: After that, we had to go to a holding center

to get checked and vetted again, which ended up taking

about three hours.

The place was packed, but the vibe inside was a bit calmer

and more organized and it was outside.

People seemed genuinely excited to be entering the

Gaza Strip.

MALE SPEAKER 3: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

SUROOSH ALVI: We eventually got put on a bus, drove past

the border marker, and got dropped off in Palestinian

territory on the other side.

The whole bus trip lasted about three minutes, and we

drove the distance of about two football fields.

But we couldn't argue with protocol.

We were finally in the Gaza Strip.

The drive from the border town of Rafah in the south to Gaza

City in the north is just 25 miles, which gives you an idea

of just how tiny the place is.

According to the UN, more than two-thirds of its 1.6 million

residents are refugees.

Even though Gaza is small, it's a crucial part of

Palestine and completely isolated from the West Bank.

In 2006, Gaza held elections for the first time, and much

of the world was shocked when Hamas, a group that the US and

Europe classify as a terrorist organization, won.

The Bush administration, who had championed elections in

the Arab world, were obviously less than

thrilled with this outcome.

They began working to isolate new Hamas-controlled

government.

In addition to helping impose a blockade that cut off Hamas

from the outside world, they equipped Hamas's rivals,

Fatah, with a raft of new weapons and training in hopes

that they would unseat Hamas from power.

It didn't work.

After a succession of assassinations, kidnappings,

and street battles between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas took

complete control of the Gaza Strip and, for the first time

in its history, had to figure out how to run a government.

MALE SPEAKER 4: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ON

LOUDSPEAKER]

In the days before we arrived, militant groups inside Gaza

had been launching rockets into Israel, and the Israelis

responded by launching attacks on what they

called terror cells.

When we got to our hotel, we could see Israeli drones

flying around everywhere.

Kind of screwed up our plan--

doing a story on Gaza without ever mentioning Israel.

The constant buzzing of drones overhead made us super

paranoid that anything place we went

could be blown to bits.

Like the Hamas government building where we met with the

group's spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum.

SUROOSH ALVI: Can you explain to me why there were rockets

being launched into Israel and why Israel was bombing Gaza

over the last few days?

Why did the cease-fire break down?

SUROOSH ALVI: Who attacked first?

SUROOSH ALVI: Israel attacked?

SUROOSH ALVI: Islamic Jihad is a group that--

it's more radical, I think, than Hamas.

SUROOSH ALVI: The resistance against Israel is part of the

fabric of everyday life in Gaza, so when a militant group

like Al-Ansar decides to have a pop-up press conference in

the middle of a busy street, nobody bats an

eye, except for us.

Holy shit.

MALE SPEAKER 5: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: And like that, they were gone.

It was a hell of a first day in the Gaza Strip.

[HORN HONKING]

SUROOSH ALVI: We're going on patrol with the

Hamas police force.

Apparently, there's some kind of fight going on.

We're going to see who's kicking whose ass.

After the 2007 battle with rival Palestinian faction,

Fatah, Hamas came out on top, which meant most Fatah

supporters got the hell out of Gaza.

So we were surprised when the police rolled up to an entire

Fatah neighborhood.

We seem to be in Fatah-controlled

territory right now.

Their flags are flying everywhere.

And I'm not sure why we're here or what the police are

investigating.

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: What they seem to be investigating with this

full-on show of force was a minor building code violation.

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Hamas has a reputation for imposing a

strict rule of law.

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Even more so if you're a member of Fatah.

So basically, Hamas was just harassing Fatah supporters.

SAMAH AHMED: All Fatah members here in

Gaza cannot to anything.

The situation controlled by Hamas.

She's the government and she's the security.

She's everything.

It's not easy to have your normal daily life with Hamas.

If the security of Hamas came to any restaurant, any opening

places, and find boys and girls sitting together, they

start to ask about the kind of the relationship between you,

if it's legal or not.

Sometimes I feel that they occupied my mind.

I didn't want to say that Fatah is the best.

They have many faults.

They do many mistakes.

But at least they are better than Hamas.

SUROOSH ALVI: Hamas viewed the Fatah-run Palestinian

Authority in the West Bank as an inherently corrupt entity

that failed to provide basic services for Gazans and looked

the other way when it came to alcohol and drugs.

Much of Hamas's popularity comes from the fact that they

are seen as honest and incorruptible.

And when they took power, they put a concerted effort into

stomping out all forms of vice in Gaza.

But the same tunnels that allow Hamas to smuggle in

weapons from Egypt also allow for a steady flow of drugs.

SAMAH AHMED: They're children working in the tunnel.

They are 12, 13.

They are smoking and taking drugs.

Through the tunnels, many kind of drugs can enter to Gaza,

because there is no control on the tunnels.

SUROOSH ALVI: So because there's no control in the

tunnels, Hamas are constantly doing drug raids around Gaza.

MALE SPEAKER ON RADIO: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: And they round up all kinds of drugs in all

shapes and sizes.

SUROOSH ALVI: Cocaine balls.

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: It's cocaine in perfectly formed triangles,

which is odd.

Lot of little bricks of hash and pills.

SUROOSH ALVI: That's 100 grams?

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

MALE SPEAKER 7: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Now things like hash and cocaine are pretty

standard for a drug raid.

But the biggest drug problem in Gaza is Tramodol, or as

it's called there, Tramol.

Tramol is a prescription painkiller that has become the

drug of choice for young people looking to escape the

reality of life in Gaza.

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: And where is it all coming from?

Is ti coming from Egypt?

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Through the tunnels?

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: We decided to see if we could find some kids

to talk to who might be using Tramol.

Our fixer, Raed, said he knew just the place to go.

RAED: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: We are now hunting for kids on drugs, and

we figured a park is a good place to go.

In my experience, parks are great places for stoned kids

to hang out.

The psychological impact of living under occupation in a

place that's sealed off is really heavy.

They're poor, they don't have jobs, they've lost their

family members to war.

They're turning to drugs.

They're numbing the pain.

They're trying to find a way to escape, and the only way

they can do that is through pharmaceuticals.

We spotted some kids hanging out in the corner of the park

and walked over to them.

I let Raed do the talking.

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Really?

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: They don't care.

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: So according to these kids, Tramol became more

popular after Hamas came to power, and its reach is still

spreading, in spite of all the crackdowns and in spite of the

harsh punishments suffered by people who got caught.

People who we would be meeting the next day.

[MUEZZIN GIVING CALL TO PRAYER OVER LOUDSPEAKER]

SUROOSH ALVI: After seeing the Hamas police squad show off

all the drugs they've confiscated in raids across

the Gaza Strip, we wanted to see what happens to the people

they catch.

Gaza City's central prison is home to both drug smugglers

and drug users.

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: We read that drugs are a big problem.

For the crime of smuggling drugs, or smoking hash, or

adultery, what are the punishments?

SUROOSH ALVI: And how do they execute people?

They hang them?

SUROOSH ALVI: Shooting.

Wow.

Heavy.

SUROOSH ALVI: It's all drugs?

And how many prisoners are in this room here?

SUROOSH ALVI: 36?

In this one room?

SUROOSH ALVI: He's a good man?

SUROOSH ALVI: Why does he like you so much?

SUROOSH ALVI: Right, right.

That's why he's being nice now.

SUROOSH ALVI: How do you know that they will

come back after Eid?

SUROOSH ALVI: Put the whole family in jail.

SUROOSH ALVI: Anyone ever escape from here?

SUROOSH ALVI: OK.

SUROOSH ALVI: How many women are in the prison?

SUROOSH ALVI: That's all?

SUROOSH ALVI: In all of Gaza?

JAMILA AL-SHANTI: Yes.

SUROOSH ALVI: And what are the crimes that

they're in prison for?

SUROOSH ALVI: Right.

[MUEZZIN GIVING CALL TO PRAYER OVER LOUDSPEAKER]

SUROOSH ALVI: Rather than letting us visit the women in

their cells, the women's warden dragged the female

prisoners out and put them on display for us in a room that

they apparently use to make prisoner arts and crafts.

[MEOW]

SUROOSH ALVI: It's a bit of a PR show.

They're giving them, you know, like warm

clothes for the winter.

Basically, it's--

it's odd.

It's a bit weird.

She's the boss.

FEMALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: We weren't allowed to interview the women

on camera, so we had Raed find out what these women had done

to end up behind bars.

This woman here is in jail for two years because she helped

her son escape and get out of Gaza Strip illegally, to go to

Israel or the West Bank.

I'm not sure where he went.

And she was smiling and was actually saying it with pride,

which was interesting.

The woman who had the little boy out of wedlock, she is in

jail or six years for that crime.

For having a kid illegitimately.

SUROOSH ALVI: That's interesting.

So basically what you're saying is that Hamas is very

progressive when it comes to women's rights.

SAMAH AHMED: Actually, it's a complicated life for the women

and also for all the Palestinians.

But especially for the women, the girls, you cannot do

whatever you want.

It's not easy, actually.

SUROOSH ALVI: Just to be clear about this, women's rights now

compared to five years ago, how is it different?

SAMAH AHMED: The wife cannot go to the police station if

she getting beated from her husband.

Before, you can go to the police station.

SUROOSH ALVI: Right.

SAMAH AHMED: And the police station told the woman, just

go and solve your problem with your husband.

I wish that Hamas didn't win the election.

I have many good memories with Hamas members.

We have been like brothers and sisters.

But when they get the power, they changed.

Gaza became another country.

It's not anymore a part of Palestine.

SUROOSH ALVI: We're at the Hamas police

station in Gaza City.

These are unexploded bombs, and the police just told us

that they found a bomb in Khan Yunis, a town nearby, and

they've asked us if we want to go with them and watch them

blow the bomb up.

And we said yes.

The bomb squad grounds were overflowing with tons of

unexploded ordnance, including the infamous Qassam rocket,

which was developed by the military arm of Hamas.

MALE SPEAKER 8: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: We're looking at a Qassam rocket.

It is made in a secret underground

factory here in Gaza.

It's not very accurate.

It has a range of eight kilometers.

Often not very effective.

Some Palestinians think it's more trouble than it's worth.

But it has created a lot of problems for Israel, and has

them living in fear in the southern cities

of Ashdod and Ashkelon.

So these are all the unexploded bombs.

Grenades in here.

Mortar shells, a lot of them.

Bit freaky in here.

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Just as we were looking at all the weapons in

the truck, everyone started freaking out and pointing up

at the sky.

It turned out that what we had witnessed was Israel's test of

a new long-range missile capable of hitting Iran.

We were happy it wasn't going to come down on our heads in

Gaza, but it was a potent reminder of the strength of

Israel's military.

It feels like everyone was anticipating

something to happen.

Israel's been saying for the last couple days these

cryptic, veiled threats.

They're going to go in and solve this problem once and

for all in Gaza.

What does that mean?

Now that we were all completely paranoid, we headed

off into the desert with our truck full of bombs.

We're riding along here behind a rolling bomb, essentially.

The truck is full of unexploded ordnance.

We have grenades, landmines, mortars, rockets.

They're loose, bouncing around in the back of the truck.

We're driving through crowded urban areas.

We just passed a school.

It doesn't seem like they're taking a lot of precautions,

but it hasn't blown up yet.

Come on, man.

What are you doing?

Fuck!

No, that's good.

I'm good.

All right, you having fun now?

You enjoying yourselves?

We are on a former Israeli settlement.

It's the only place in Gaza with enough open area where

you can blow something up without someone

getting killed or hurt.

I can't help but point out the irony of blowing up Israeli

bombs that were left here where Israeli

settlers used to live.

Makes us nervous.

You know, like, I don't know that one of these things isn't

going to go off.

They're just dumping it off the truck, dropping things.

Shouldn't they be exploding?

All right.

I--

I'm done.

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: This is the final stage.

We've left two cameras, one right by the pit of bombs and

the other one up on the hill.

Hopefully they don't get blown up.

We're trying to convince George, our cameraman-- that's

you-- to stay here and get a better shot.

But he doesn't seem to be too into that.

Our producer Jason courageously and/or stupidly

volunteered to go film in the bunker.

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Feels a little chaotic.

Apparently, they're having some technical problems now.

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: I'm more worried about Jason inside of that

doghouse bunker that he's in.

MALE SPEAKER 9: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: No?

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: They're telling us to get down.

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

[EXPLOSION]

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

[SIREN]

SUROOSH ALVI: Behind me is the crater.

It was done successfully, although it took a while.

It didn't detonate the first couple times.

And as we were sitting around waiting, I thought about this

morning when the Israelis launched a super high-tech

missile And then meanwhile, 20 kilometers over.

It's like a cartoon.

Not particularly calculated and kind of chaotic.

Maybe that sums up life in Gaza Strip.

We're doing some shopping right now.

Got some--

some swag.

Al-Qassam.

MALE SPEAKER 10: Yeah, Hamas.

SUROOSH ALVI: Hamas Military Brigade.

SUROOSH ALVI: Yeah, why?

The drone?

MALE SPEAKER 10: Yeah, of course.

SUROOSH ALVI: Will it get me?

SUROOSH ALVI: I'm not worried.

I'm not wearing the right shirt, though.

Like a button-down shirt with my Islamic Jihad headband?

Doesn't really work.

I'm going to keep it on.

I'll go shopping with it.

I'm kidding.

All right, we'll take those also.

Just as we were getting into the groove of things in Gaza

and were starting to relax, we found out that the border

crossing was closing unexpectedly.

RAED: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Raed got on the phone to try and convince them

to keep the crossing open long enough for us to

get back into Egypt.

We are trying to get to the border now, to Rafah crossing.

If we don't make it there before noon, then we might be

stuck in Gaza, in which case, we'll have to

go through the tunnels.

Samah decided to hitch a ride with us, hoping that she might

slip through in the chaos.

So if you get through today, that's a pretty big deal.

Means that you're maybe not being targeted anymore, or--?

RAED: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: In spite of Samah having a visa to travel

to Germany, the Hamas border guards weren't having it.

And we were rushed along without her, leaving her

behind the walls of the Gaza Strip.

RAED: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: After our first try to get into Gaza in 2007,

it took us years to finally get in.

In reality, if Israel hadn't made it so hard to get in in

the first place, I don't think we would have been so curious

about what was going on behind those walls.

When we first arrived, we were really impressed by this kind

of orderliness that you don't see in many places that are as

poor as Gaza.

But then as we began to realize that this was purely

the result of Hamas's authoritarian approach to law

and order, it began to creep us out.

MALE SPEAKER 11: [ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: The Hamas government operates in an

environment of paranoia that has them on guard not only

against the outside world but against their brothers and

sisters in Fatah and against ordinary Gazans, whose

poverty, they fear, could tempt them

into spying for Israel.

What we have here is an authoritarian government

operating within prison walls and under economic siege.

It's like the set up for a Kurt Russell movie, except

that it's real.

But as we crossed into the chaos of post-revolution

Egypt, part of me just wanted to turn around and go right

back to Gaza.

MALE SPEAKER 12: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

JASON MOJICA: What do you want money for?

MALE SPEAKER 12: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

JASON MOJICA: Can we go?

Go, go.

[RAED AND MAN ARGUING IN ARABIC]

SUROOSH ALVI: Can we drive the car now?

The Description of Crime & Punishment in the Gaza Strip