The Gaza Strip has long been referred to as akin to a large, open-air prison.
This characterization is not hyperbolic.
The crossings from Gaza out to Israel, and beyond, have remained closed to most Palestinians since the beginning of this intifada at least, and, for many, were closed even before that time.
Gaza's residents thus have only one point of exit to the outside world â€“ the Rafah, or Al Awda crossing.
In the wake of Israel's disengagement from Gaza, much controversy has centered on the fate of the crossing.
For Gaza's 1.
4 million residents, there is little more important than the final status of the crossing.
In order to understand their concerns and the non-negotiable Palestinian demand that the crossing be under full and exclusive Palestinian control, it is necessary to examine the history of the crossing and the way it has been managed since its establishment.
Only by considering its effect on the rights to freedom of movement, freedom of worship, education and healthcare, can the gravity of the crossing's fate be understood.