It’s one of those beautiful, sunny days, with a fresh sea breeze and people strolling on the beach…one of those days in which you can almost forget the manifold tragedies that unfold daily in Gaza under siege. Under siege for four years, really, but fully under siege since mid 2007, over 1000 days. One thousand days of compromises on basic human rights and necessities for the human beings living here. Compromises which deny the ill –the seriously ill –medical care, deny students proper study materials or access to study abroad, deny access to work outside a jobless Strip, deny dreams and hopes, breath and life.
But on a day like this –far from the border regions where IOF soldiers fire on unarmed Palestinians, where workers scrounge for recyclables, where farmers look at land beyond their reach (but within Gaza) thanks to the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” –one can temporarily forget all of this manufactured misery.
It’s the fishermen –youths, many of them –paddling out on their surfboardesque ‘hassakas’ to ply stockless waters for fish…it’s their determination, and the grace with which they move their boats through choppy waters, knowing that Israeli gunboats patrol even within the 3 miles they’ve enforced as a limit on the fishermen. It’s the good nature they exude when they speak of their hardships and realities, always with a smile.
It’s the teens taking their horses for a swim, wash and cool-down, jumping in themselves to refresh.
It was the youth volunteers in the north, finishing a demonstration against the “buffer zone” –where today 5 bulldozers worked inside Gaza, accompanied by 2 tanks and uncounted Israeli soldiers –with a round of dabke.
The images of kids picking through rubbish –scavenging for anything sellable or useable –as we walked from the border, I won’t forget. The knowledge that 3 families are freshly living in tents after the IOF demolished their homes for no reason weeks ago, and that tens of other families still live in tents over a year after Israel’s massacre of Gaza…I won’t forget.
But in Gaza one has to grasp onto the beautiful things, to try to balance out the misery of others that you can’t help but internalize.
So thanks to the Abu Khalil, an amazing medic in the north who I saw today, and the fishers and shebab on horses today, for helping to do just that.