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Reporters on the Job

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A woman sells smoked fish at her roadside stand 110 miles west of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

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No Time to Shop? Reporter Safwat Al-Kahlout was awakened early Wednesday morning by a phone call from a colleague: The wall between Gaza and Egypt has been blown up (see story). Safwat, who lives in Gaza, got dressed, but as he left his wife reminded him that it was his 7-year-old daughter's birthday: "Don't be late."

He was surprised by the scale of events on the border. By 8:30 a.m., word had spread throughout Gaza. He saw hundreds of people streaming across. "Some were with Palestinian relatives who live on the Egyptian side. Many were already coming back after buying anything they could find. They were pulling cows, and goats, and carrying lambs, and biscuits, and dried milk," says Safwat.

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Did he buy a birthday present in Egypt for his daughter? "The crowds were too big. It was difficult to go deeper into Rafah, to find a toy store. I was working," he insists.

But it's not clear whether that explanation will suffice. By Wednesday afternoon he was back in Gaza, searching frantically for her gift. "She wants a 'Fulla,' it's the [veiled] Arabic version of Barbie. I don't know if I will find it," he says, fully aware of the import of his mission.

David Clark Scott

World editor