In November 1998, residents of the crowded Gaza Strip got their first airport, and better access to the world outside their narrow confines. Located in the south near the Egyptian border, the Yasser Arafat International Airport had been years – and millions of dollars in foreign grants – in the making. Gazans, many of whom had never seen a plane up close, were euphoric, gathering at its gates in the thousands to watch the first Palestinian Airlines flight land.
The 1993 Oslo Accords gave Palestinians the right to build the airport, but awarded Israel full control of the airspace. From the beginning, Israel was concerned about the airport's security. It controlled routes and schedules, and prevented flights from landing at night by keeping the navigational equipment to guide those planes. Passengers, luggage and aircrafts were subject to Israeli security checks. Here, a Palestinian Airlines flight bound for Cairo lifts off.