We are stuck in the no man's land of Erez crossing, held up at the big, electronic cattle gate that is the last door between Israel and Gaza.
People keep shuffling up on both sides. An elderly Palestinian woman in a wheelchair sits in the stifling shade of the mostly-destroyed concrete tunnel.
One of the Palestinian baggage handlers in his orange vest sits on the other side of the gate and tells me tales of living through Israel's winter military offensive. His story is filled with lots of "boom booms," whistles and demonstrations of limbs being cut off by shrapnel.
Someone presses the intercom, and the bodyless Israeli border guard on the other end of the line who sounds like a fast food drive thru cashier says it will be just a few minutes, which turns into an hour.
On the other side, Hamas continues to upgrade its bureaucratic border crossing process. Though names are still hand written in a shabby note book fit for a dusty Wild West 1800s train station, Hamas now has border cards for people to fill out. And I'm told they are even making a half-hearted attempt to screen for virus-formerly-known-as-Swine Flu. (Though they did nothing to check me for it as I came in...)
Having stood by and watched Hamas guards confiscate booze from my bag, we have decided to hide the alcohol under the seats of the car while the border guards check my suitcase...
The two guards skeptically eye my bag of ginger snaps and want to know what they are. They peer at my packet of Brazil nuts and ask me what they are. They gaze at my DVDs and ask me what "Slumdog Millionaire" is about. Then they ask me if I have any booze.
"Not in this bag, no," I say, truthfully.
"If I wanted to bring in booze," I ask casually, "can I bring it in?"
"You can bring two bottles," the guard says.
"If you bring in three," he says with a laugh, "we will smash the third."
Welcome back to Gaza, where, if there weren't enough problems already, residents are dealing with a confusing new threat from Al Qaeda aspirants who like to lash explosives on horses and send them galloping towards Israeli border patrols.
Workers have already started repairs on the pock marked white walls of the Taymeah mosque minaret with views of the Mediterranean.
A Hamas government soldier gives us the OK to look around - but tells us not to take pictures.
We casually meander around the side, away from the soldier, where I try to snap a shot or two with my cell phone. But some dude on the second floor of the mosque is keeping an eye on us and we're busted.
Very soon we are surrounded by a large group of soldiers and a very unhappy officer who demands my Jawwal. Dutifully, I give it to him, especially since I took the photo with my second cell phone and not the Palestinian phone he is now threatening to crush.
My colleague Ahmed deftly talks him out of destroying my cell phone and I sheepishly apologize for not realizing that the guard really meant it when he said no pictures...
We cruise by the family home of Abdul-Latif Moussa, the Al Qaeda-admiring Gaza sheik who boldly declared Rafah part of a new "Islamic emirate" and then died in a brutal showdown with Hamas fighters.
Nervous relatives sit in a dusty Rafah alley filled mostly by empty white plastic chairs set out for the daring mourners willing to come by.
No one here will talk. Not now. They have been warned by Hamas, they say, not to talk to anyone. Especially the press.
Everyone has a different version of the story -- a sometimes-legendary tale that can include a mix of the following central elements: The Mossad, Fatah, Egypt, Syria, Khaled Mashaal, Mohammed Dahlan, and, of course, Osama Bin Laden.
As Ahmed points out, the latest Hamas allegation -- that Moussa's Jund Ansar Allah is a proxy for reviled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan --- doesn't quite hold up. This is the same group, Ahmed notes, that Hamas accused of bombing a Dahlan relative's wedding earlier this summer.
So now Hamas is saying that Jund Ansar Allah is for Dahlan -- and against him.
That clears things up.