In the gloom of northern Gaza City at night the not so distant horizon is lit up by the bright lights of the Israeli city of Ashkelon, its power station and offshore gas rigs.
Displays of conspicuous consumption, so near and yet so far.
I'm just back from Gaza, and its problems sometimes seem so huge that a resolution looks impossible.
Nearly two million people under siege for over five years. A fishing limit of within three kilometres (1.8 miles) from the shore. Two-thirds of the population unemployed, and a perpetual reminder of oppression in the shape of the Israeli F16s that periodically fly overhead.
But amid the bombed-out buildings, seldom rebuilt due to a chronic lack of building materials, you do see shoots of hope.
Every available piece of ground is planted with fruit and vegetables. Small-scale markets abound - shops contain goods from all over the world, a testament to the tunnel economy and the enterprise of the people.
Schools are full - in fact due to overcrowding there are double shifts. Universities are full too, and Gaza boasts more graduates than any country in the region - higher in fact than any western European country.
But this can't hide the desperation of Gaza's plight. A recent document from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Gaza 2020, sets out the scale of the problem.
UNRWA director Scott Anderson calculates that 20 per cent of Gaza's economy depends on his organisation. The agency was set up in 1948 to deal with the refugee crisis caused by Israel's expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland. It is as old as the NHS.
Sixty-five years on its presence in Gaza, the West Bank and the refugee camps of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan means that for 90 per cent of Palestinians their whole lives have been dominated by UNRWA - eating its food, attending its schools, relying on its water supply.
Gaza is a tiny enclave, 26 miles from north to south. It is the most densely populated place on Earth.
Its water supply system is in deep crisis. The coastal aquifer - the supply of water underground - is falling by two metres a year. Gaza relies on seawater and the polluted run-off from sewerage and nitrates. Wells in operation are already over 80 metres deep. The aquifer will be unusable in three years and unless all abstraction is stopped and given 10 years to recover from rainwater it will never be useable again.
Sewage is mostly pumped raw into the Mediterranean or collected in tankers and pumped into seasonal river beds, creating a public health risk.
Drinking water is either from the very risky public supply or comes expensively bottled from Turkey or smuggled through the tunnels from Egypt.
Energy supplies are sporadic. Gaza is unable to generate enough because its main power plant has been out of action since Operation Cast Lead. Power cuts for six hours a day are common, hence the perpetual whirr of noisy generators trying to cope with the 30-megawatt deficit.
There are many ways these problems could be dealt with - desalination plants could be powered by offshore gas, a gas-fired power station could produce energy. But Israel bans many key materials and fires on any boat that strays too far from the shore, making the limitations of any plan obvious.
Rice, meat, dairy and other goods have to be imported. Israel operates a "tight throat" policy on crossings, creating a permanent shortage.
Health problems abound. Diabetes and hypertension are chronic illnesses suffered by many. Mental health issues, often trauma related, are everywhere. Meeting the neighbours of a family of 10 who were wiped out by an F16 rocket in November was a salutary experience. Stressed children and defiant adults stood in the gathering gloom by a deep crater.
Though Egypt is allowing lorries in to bring aggregate for reconstruction, there is rubble waiting to be crushed in every part of Gaza but no machinery to do it. The ruins of buildings destroyed four years ago in Operation Cast Lead still blight the landscape.
What construction is going on is funded by project money from the Gulf states and Europe. With no Gazan economy to speak of it's unclear what will happen when the cash dries up.
That's just one of the issues raised in Gaza 2020. Another is education. The UN provides good education up to children's teenage years and literacy rates are high, but the population is expanding by 3.74 per cent a year, among the highest rates anywhere. At least 100 new schools will be needed in the next seven years.
For the sort of development that Gaza requires the ceasefire with Israel is essential, even though 40 Palestinians have been killed since it was agreed - despite Tel Aviv's bluster - through negotiations with Hamas in November.
And a united Palestinian government would also be a boost. Gaza's Hamas-run administration is talking to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, but many disagreements remain.
And how can you plan development when under constant attack? Israeli jails hold 4,700 Palestinians. Another 300 are in "administrative detention" - never having been tried in any court - including 15 members of the Palestinian Assembly.
Four hunger-strikers are starving in protest at administrative detention. Visits by family members to prisoners are all but impossible. Even the Red Cross has difficulty gaining access.
Over the weekend a Palestinian prisoner, Arafat Jaradat, died after being interrogated by Israeli authorities. He was allegedly beaten following his arrest for throwing stones and injuring an Israeli soldier. The risk of the ceasefire breaking down is obvious.
But international support for the Palestinians makes a huge difference. The effective burns unit at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis is funded by Medical Aid for Palestine and Interpal, which organised my visit.
Students who have completed courses partly funded by Interpal are a credit, as are the smaller projects it funds such as school shelters and clothing for the poorest.
Elfawa hospital is near the north-east edge of Gaza. It's home to some isolated elderly people and has a beautiful garden, rebuilt with money from Britain's Department for International Development. Many projects within the hospital are funded by voluntary donations. But the shadow of Israel is not far off. The fields of Israeli farmers are visible from the windows. It's overlooked by a surveillance balloon and if anyone goes within 100 metres of the security fence they will be met with automatic gunfire.
The most exciting project I witnessed was the plan for 50 hectares of former Israeli settlement in the south which had been purchased. It will be turned into a farm and a training centre for young agricultural workers. It will grow olives, fruit, vegetables.
A people wronged by history, occupied and driven into exile, imprisoned and impoverished, still show an amazing determination to survive and achieve. Why shouldn't young Palestinians pursue their rights to work, travel and succeed like their peers anywhere else in the world?
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