Gaza’s Catch 22

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  Still haven’t done any accompaniment work yet with the Gazan fishers and farmers. Rumour has it, that the Hamas government is concerned that if internationalists accompany fishers and farmers into the supposedly ceasefire agreed, newly available land and sea areas, that they will feel more confident, and so more likely to suffer from an assault from the Israeli military, and so a breakdown of the ceasefire.  But the Israelis are breaking the ceasefire with impunity anyways, seizing two boats last week, shooting two fishers a day ago and shooting two farmers earlier in the week.  I see these assaults are going unreported in the Western media, but I well imagine what the media coverage would be if Hamas responded in kind to these Israeli violations.  Gazans appear to be between the rock and the hard place.

Had an enlightening moment in a taxi the other night.  Like any driver, he asked where we were from.  The moment I said Canada, the driver started a vigorous complaint into the Canadian government’s position regarding Palestine, which I clearly understood without any translation.  At the end of the ride I held out my coin to pay and he wouldn’t take my money.  My Aussie friend had to pay for me.  I guess I’m going to have to start pretending to be an American or Canuakistanian (that’s a special inside joke just for Corporate Piggy fans).  

Like all my activist trips I packed several bags of balloons.  They are small, light to pack and the kids everywhere love ’em.  But here I discovered that colours matter.  I’ve stopped just blowing up and handing out a balloon.  The proper procedure is to offer a selection of  balloons to a parent or child and he or she often picks one according to party colours.  Fatah yellow, Hamas green, PPP or PLFP red and I believe black is an Islamic party, white is a still unidentified group for me and of course the blue ones are not touched, at least by the older kids, due to the Israeli flag connection.  Gold and silver are neutral.  In a country in such turmoil everything is political, as well it should be.

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Colours matter in Gaza.  The flags for several parties, all in a united cause at a weekly “Free Our Detainees” rally outside the UN offices.

The power goes out very regularly due to the cutting off of fuel from Israel.  Usually 8 to 12 hours everyday day and often at the most inconvenient moments.  Such as in the middle of one of my Mavi Marmara film presentations at a hospital.  I was initially shocked and concerned, but not a murmur came from the audience of doctors and nurses.  It was, sadly, a normal occurance and so we all quietly waited in the dark for a minute or so until the emergency generator started and my film continued, but all I could think about were the darkened operating rooms.  And the rest of Gaza is left to candles and smoky, haywired gas generators, which have apparently lead to the death, electrocution, monoxide poisoning and maiming of many, including the recent burning death of a family of 6.  

Last thought is how much Gaza reminds me of Cuba, which is apropo as the Canadian Cuban ambassador passed on her personal greeting and solidarity with Gaza through me.  The old cars running on a wing and a prayer and maybe some baling wire.  Horse and donkey carts loaded with the country side’s fresh produce for the city’s needs.  Everyone has a garden and fruit trees to help feed themselves.  Improvised and homemade parts being used ingeniously in almost anything. And of course they are both suffering under blockades instituted or supported by the US.  And both these people have the same steadfast, unyielding resolve to continue struggling until victory.

Last photo is of the families of some of the hundreds of illegally detained Palestinians hoping for some international support for their cause in front of the Red Cross office.

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