There's nothing that says "Welcome to Gaza" like the Erez border crossing.
On one side is Israel's high-tech border terminal, complete with its maze of gates, metal detectors, body scanners, and bomb rooms -- all navigated without ever coming close to Israeli guards who watch the whole process from a second-story bank of offices overlooking the screening section
On the other side of the terminal is a vast Palestinian wasteland.
This is the No Man's Land between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza.
And it is an all-too-perfect metaphor for the state of affairs in this isolated Mediterranean strip.
At one time, this vast field was a thriving, Turkish-run industrial zone with large factories producing goods for Israel and jobs for Palestinians.
The site became a target of Palestinian militant attacks and was shuttered by Israel in 2004.
Over the years, the Israeli military gradually razed all the abandoned buildings in this no man's land, leaving behind vast stretches of rubble.
All that remained was a rudimentary covered concrete tunnel that connected the Israeli border terminal to the Palestinian side of Gaza.
This is what it looked like in 2005 as you entered Gaza:
After Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in June, 2007, hundreds of Palestinians sought to escape into Israel as scavengers methodically dismantled the tunnel.
This is the same tunnel as it was being dismantled by the Palestinian scavengers.
Within weeks, most of the tunnel was gone.
For more than two years, this has been the state of the border crossing.
But now there is surprising new construction at Erez.
Palestinian workers are building a 700-yard covered concrete walkway leading from the remains of the old tunnel to the Palestinian border control caravan.
The project is being done with the blessing of Israeli officials who approved a rare supply of cement to build the walkway.
Work on the Palestinian side is being coordinated by Palestinian border officials who answer not to Hamas, but to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
Is this a sign of rebirth at Gaza?
The construction comes as Israel is preparing to close its main fuel terminal with Gaza, which supplies the 1.4 million Palestinians with everything from cooking gas to fuel for Gaza's only power plant.
Israel plans to use another terminal at Kerem Shalom to transfer fuel. But humanitarian groups say the new terminal can't handle the necessary fuel for Gaza.
According to UN reports, Israel is still only allowing a trickle of goods. The UN reported that the number of truckloads allowed into Gaza by Israel hit a new low in September.
Last month, Israel allowed about 2,100 truckloads of goods into Gaza. Before Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel allowed more than 12,000 truckloads of goods to enter Gaza each month.
Recently, an Israeli government official was boasting that military surveillance showed that Gaza markets were full and teeming with goods. He pointed it out to suggest that Israeli restrictions were not harming Gaza.
Of course, he deftly neglected to mention that most of the goods found in Gaza markets these days don't come from Israel. They come through the dangerous network of illegal smuggling tunnels to Egypt...