On many days, Hamza Abu Shalhoub is the only person sitting inside the derelict VIP lounge of what used to be Gaza International Airport. Hemmed in by Egyptian border posts to the south and Israeli watchtowers to the east, he makes a living by trying to trap and sell songbirds, using other caught birds as lures. Goldfinches are the real prize, he says, because they still sing in captivity. He can make $30 for a goldfinch in the market, but has only ever caught one, and usually makes do with lesser catches. It's not much of a job, rising at dawn every day to spread their nets among the garbage-and-debris strewn former airport buildings. But with poverty rife and youth unemployment at 70 percent in Gaza, Shalhoub said he did not have much choice. He left school seven years ago at the age of nine. "When I was at school I dreamt of becoming a teacher, but my father took me out of school to help him earn money for the family," he said, sitting in winter clothes and warming himself in front of a pot of coffee on an open fire. His favourite subjects were English and Arabic, he said. "I want to go back to class, but there is no way now because I left school in Grade Four." To snare the birds, he ties a string to the leg of a captured goldfinch. They hope the sight of a bird on the ground will tempt wild birds to come down, thinking there are worms there to be eaten. Once the birds land, he flips the nets onto them. He also places three recorders around the airfield, playing sounds of birds. He mostly catches smaller birds, which only fetch about $1.5 but still put food on the table. Shalhoub's chosen hunting ground is itself a symbol of thwarted Palestinian hopes for sovereignty and economic independence, as the Palestinians' only direct link to the outside world that was not controlled by Israel or Egypt.