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With Attacks In Sinai, Gaza Border Shuts Even Tighter

There is one land crossing out of Gaza, Rafah on Egypt's border, and it is usually shut, confounding the life and travel plans of thousands of Palestinians.

At the Rafah crossing on Nov. 20
At the Rafah crossing on Nov. 20

RAFAH Here in southern Gaza, the Rafah crossing is the only exit point for Palestinians from the narrow strip of land sandwiched between Israel and Egypt. The possibility of actually passing through into Egypt, in order to travel to any foreign destination, has become an almost mythical prospect. More than 25,000 Palestinians registered and waiting to leave can testify to this reality.

Alaf al-Saafini is one of them. Several times since graduating in medicine in 2015 from Gaza's Islamic University, this sharply-dressed young woman thought her lucky day had arrived. First there was a surprise grant to pursue her studies at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, which she had to forego since she could not leave Gaza. Then, last spring, she was offered work and a visa in Dubai. She packed her bags, paid the $1,700 to certify her degree and registered on the long list of people trying to cross the Rafah terminal into Egypt. Again, the veritable siege of Gaza thwarted her plans.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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