It was the first day of Ramadan. She sat down beside me, an elegant presence in long flowing Palestinian dress and modest headscarf, just covering her hair, like my mother used to wear when she went to Mass. A young woman minding her own business. I greeted her and we struck up a conversation.

We were waiting in the interminable queues at the border crossing from Gaza into Israel.

She turned out to be a medical professional and she was going to Jerusalem for treatment. "I’m sorry to hear that," I said. "Can I ask what the condition is?" Cancer. There is almost no treatment for the condition in Gaza and the only place to go is Jerusalem.

Permits, permits, permits. You have to have permissions from all and sundry to get the treatment and you also have to get the permission of the Gazan authorities to leave the enclave and of the Israeli authorities to enter their territory.

She has had an operation, received two rounds of chemotherapy and is now returning for the final two rounds of radiotherapy. "In al-Quds," she confides, using the Arab term for Jerusalem, "the holy".

"You are not married, I see" I said to her. "No, but Inshallah, some day" she replied. "Inshallah", I replied.

There’s a lot of Insalllah these days in Gaza. The Arabic greeting and all-pervasive comment means "if God wills". It is a kind of fatalistic, but charming term dropped into virtually every conversation in the Islamic world.

Palestinians break their fast on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan

On the first day of Ramadan, when Muslims fast all day and feast at night, I asked her how she would cope, being so ill. "We have special rules for the sick. I will be okay", she said. "Inshallah" I said. She smiled.

And that was the end of our conversation. A short snatched few words in the maelstrom that is the Gaza experience. It stood out for me because it was so different to all the rest of my interactions in the territory.

Rushing around trying to cover a breaking news event means, inevitably, that one is always talking politics. Hamas this and Israel that. It’s been like that forever in Gaza.

It is one of the most intractable of international conflicts to solve. The two million people that live in miserable conditions rage against the people they believe to be their oppressors. Everything is blamed on Israel.

Their own poisonous politics hardly gets a mention. No one talks openly of the way Hamas, the militant Islamist organisation, controls the lives and hopes of the population. Because to criticise Hamas is to court danger, or even your life itself in the past.

Everyone knows this and you bring it up in whispers. But there’s another factor at work. When you talk to the disillusioned youth, particularly the young men, you get a sense of volcanic anger.

The more you hear from them, the more you have the sense that even Hamas - militant as it is - is not radical enough for some of them.

What could be more radical than Hamas? I’ve no idea, but like everyone else, I’ve seen the growth of nutty, out-there Islamist movements in the Middle East, and they exist. If they ever got a foothold in Gaza, I have no idea what would happen there.

Back at the crossing, I went to the passport control and I looked over at the separate queue that Palestinians use.

There was the elegant young woman from before. Waiting patiently behind three or four others. I could detect the tiredness in her eyes and the resignation of the long journey she has ahead in her face.

It will be a tiring trip to Jerusalem for treatment and a long road back to Gaza, where, I am sad to say, not much will have changed in the interim.

Tear gas fumes rising amid Palestinian protesters during clashes along the border