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Egypt: Palestinians find niche near border guiding journalists

With reporters covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinians living across the border in Egypt find plenty of business serving as guides.

By Joseph MaytonCorrespondent / November 13, 2009



A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

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AL ARISH, EGYPT – Some 30 minutes from the Gazan border is Al Arish, a town populated by Egyptians and Palestinians who live against the backdrop of a wider conflict that has been affecting the area for decades. Here in this coastal town, Palestinians have made a niche of their own: helping foreign journalists cover events and news stories related to their Gazan brethren.

Ahmed Ziada is a local taxi driver, driving passengers to and from Rafah on the Egyptian side. For him, it is a chance to educate.

“I have been here since I was 2. My family came from Khan Yunis,” he says, pointing across the horizon to where 1.5 million Palestinians live. “I haven’t been back since then ... but it is my home.” For now, at least, he resides in Al Arish, using his old Mercedes as a taxi. He has become a magnet for journalists – a “fixer,” as such guides are known – due to his knowledge and connections.

Despite all the tension that conflict can bring, this little bastion of helpers, such as Mr. Ziada, has given journalists a real sense of the situation on the ground. Getting the story in Al Arish is much easier, thanks to them.

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