In the days after the six days war, the relations between Israel and Gaza were quiet included mutual visits and trade. The situation was possible thanks to the railway that connected passengers between Gaza and Tel Aviv.

the locomotive

the locomotive

Today, when the tension between Israel and Gaza reaches new heights, it is hard to imagine a situation where Israeli civilians take a train to Gaza to shop and Gaza residents come to Tel Aviv to work, but 40 years ago, this was the reality.

in 1972, Israel railways created a train line connecting Gaza to Tel Aviv. Every morning, 5 days a week, the train would leave 4:30 am from Gaza to Tel Aviv and in 15:30 would take the passengers back. The tracks stretched all the way from Dir al Balah to central Israel.

the train ticket from Tel Aviv to Gaza

the train ticket from Tel Aviv to Gaza

In the Israel Railways newspaper, published in 1973, the conductor, A. Grossman, shared his experienced working on the Gaza-Tel Aviv line: “The hour was still early, and from every direction passengers came to Dir-Al-Balah station. 3 months had passed and the train reached Al-Muazi, and 4 minutes later the train reached Alburj. In these station, hundreds get on the train every Sunday, many of them disembark in Gaza station. 10 minutes from Gaza to Jabaliya pass quickly until we reach the next station, Erez Crossing, and the number of passengers reached a thousand.

On the way to Sinai you stop in Gaza

David Sela, chairman of the Israeli committee of Israeli heritage and the editor of “Nostalgia” website, told that most of the passengers in the line were Gazan workers coming to work in Israel. In those times, 70,000 Gazans worked in Israel. The train was also used by the Israeli civilians to visit Gaza for shopping and groceries, and going through the Arab shuks. Israeli travelers also used the train on their way to Sinai, crossing into Egypt through Gaza.

The Gaza train station

The Gaza train station Israel Railways Museum

The train line was created originally by the British that controlled Israel, they wanted to connect Israel’s center and Suez Canal. Egyptian workers were building the tracks since 1916, and three years later a train line was completed between the city of Qantra on the banks of the Suez Canal, and Haifa. The line also used for carrying passengers and goods until the Independence Day war.

During the years following the British mandate, Israel used the train line for military causes, until creating the civil train service in 1972 that worked for a very short time, until the outbreak of the Yom Kippur war.