A Day in Gaza

The main purpose for my being in Gaza, is to work for the International Solidarity Movement as a human shield, with farmers, fishers or in Red Crescent ambulances if the Israelis attack.  While we wait for assignments, I fill my days by working at the fire department, teaching English at a school and visiting friends.  

Here’s how yesterday worked out.

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With the end of Ramadan comes the 4 day Eid celebration.  Gaza City center is full of people walking and talking, eating and drinking.  Outdoor eateries like this one are open late into the early morning, as too are my favourite rustic outdoor beach cafes, with their cats, rats and 2″ cockroaches (it’s Gaza, so one over looks the small stuff). Young couples and families, drink coffee and tea and smoke sheesha through water pipes.  I’m told that sheesha is as bad or worse then cigarettes, but I guess Gazans have more immediate and dangerous things to worry about.

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In the morning a homemade ferris wheel has magically appeared on our street.  Like so many things in Gaza, it doesn’t count on the intermittent electricity to work, just the strong arms of a local volunteer.

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The same goes for this swing.  Gaza’s population is young, with little spare space or resources for playgrounds, especially in the inner city areas.  So the government has built these homemade mobile playgrounds, which rotate around the communities.   The kids seem to like the plan.

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Next stop is Gaza’s seemingly endless beaches.  An amazing resource for the future.

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A water front beach cabin is prepared for us.  Our evening meal of chicken and veggies are wrapped in tin foil and buried in the sand on a bed of hot coals.

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Now that all the illegal Zionist colonies have been chased out of Gaza, the Palestinians have full access to their beaches.  The kids make the best of it during these hot days of summer.

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Everyone is in the water, dads, the kids and a snorkeler spearing crabs.  And yes women too were in the water, but not in any revealing outfits.  As a side point, there are some women drivers in Gaza, and of note, the many driver training cars I saw, usually had a women behind the wheel.

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And there’s always fishing, but you won’t find me eating any of their catch or joining them in the water here.  As just a few hundred meters to the north of us, just past the headland in this photo, is the main “river” in Gaza, Wadi Gaza, which flows out of the hills of the West Bank near Hebron.  All the Israeli towns and farms along Wadi Gaza, dump their mostly untreated sewage and chemical waste into it, such that, by the time it reaches the sea, the stench is enough, as they say, to “gag a maggot”. Due to the Israeli bombing of Gaza’s sewer plants and lack of blockaded parts for them, the Palestinians too have to dump raw sewage into Wadi Gaza.   New sewer plants are being planned and retention ponds are being built, to try to control the illegal Israeli discharges, but for now Gazan beaches are heavily polluted and would be closed and fenced off, if they were anywhere else in the world.  But the Gazans have no choice but to make the best of a bad situation, and use their “less” polluted beaches, like this one.  Even though we were within sight of Wadi Gaza’s fetid, stinking outlet, we were told that the prevailing winds and current “generally” took the sewage to the North, away from us, towards Gaza City, and it’s crowded beaches.

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The first step to making this beach safe for the kids, is to end the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza and their occupation of all of Palestine.  Please tell that to Israeli’s “best friend in the world”, Prime Minister Harper and his Canadian government.

Goodnight from Gaza.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by u_sims@sky.com on August 11, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Dear Kevin,

    Thanks for you posts, which I hugely value as snapshots of daily – and dare one say – ‘normal’ life in Gaza. I recently tried to visit the West Bank but was denied entry after nearly seven hours of interrogation by our fascist friends. The work you’re doing is invaluable however and I wish you well.

    I thought you may be interested in the following petition we’ve started, asking Tom Jones to reconsider his decision to play in Tel Aviv in October http://chn.ge/14DVj4C

    Also I think you may like the following link to Nigel Kennedy and the Palestine Strings playing Vivaldi at the Albert Hall last Thursday. It’s available to view until this Thursday (15/8) http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b037v4q1/BBC_Proms_2013_Season_Prom_34_Vivaldi_The_Four_Seasons/

    Best, Uma Sims Cardiff PSC

    Reply

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