'Everything Is From the Tunnels', Says Savvy Gaza Nine-year-old

Cost of basic goods like potato chips doubles in Gaza, as smugglers benefit from siege.

At 9 A.M., the children noticed that the numbers on the electric clock were flashing. "The electricity is back," they cried, but 8-year-old Sereen said dismissively: "It came back a long time ago. Didn't you notice?" She points to the colored pencils and says: "They are from the tunnels. Everything is from the tunnels. The notebooks, too. And the pencil case. Dad, isn't it true that they bring everything from the tunnels?"

Her father, Mustafa, confirms: "Almost everything, that's right."

Sereen: "The potato chips, too. Are you sure you don't want any? The potato chips used to be half a shekel. Since they've been bringing things in from the tunnels, it costs a shekel. And the big bag used to be NIS 5. Now it's NIS 10. Everything comes from the tunnels, because the Jews" - she stops talking, probably recalling a previous conversation about the differences between Jews, Israelis and the army, and corrects herself - "because the Israelis are closing in on us on all sides. None of our neighbors have water now [the pumps operate on electricity], we're the only ones, because we have a large water tank."

"Does Hamas accept Jews who come here?" Sereen wonders, immediately going on to ask: "Abu Amar (Yasser Arafat) - was he the one who created Hamas?"

Mustafa explains that Hamas is a movement that developed gradually, and after another question, gives the child a brief lesson on the history of the Palestine Liberation Organization, from its first chairman, Ahmed Shukairy, to Arafat.

"And will we be able to liberate Palestine some day?" asks the child, and then answers her own question: "We're not getting liberated, because we are mutkhalifeen (retards)? There is Hamas and there is Fatah, and they both want to rule."

Mustafa: "Correct."

Sereen: "But in Ramallah they're Palestinians, too, aren't they?"

"Of course," says Mustafa, who then launches into an explanation about the differing roles of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Sereen: "I want to understand something: Why did Hamas kill the members of the Preventive Security force?"

Mustafa: "Because there was a battle."

Sereen: "They didn't consider the fact that there are little children who are frightened?"

Mustafa: "It's always like that in battles. Whoever shoots doesn't take such things into consideration."

Sereen: "Before the battle between Hamas and Fatah, there was a checkpoint and we drove (in the school bus) near the Preventive Security building, and the man there told us that we weren't allowed to pass, because it was closed. But then he looked inside and smiled at me, and then he let us pass. The man at the checkpoint - was he killed or not?"

Mustafa: "How should I know?"