Beautiful Gaza is under siege

11 Jun

by Tali Williams

Kia Ora Gaza convoyer

11 June 2012

Our international aid convoy arrived in beautiful Gaza yesterday evening to a rapturous response from local people.

Driving through the streets of Gaza, we see all the markings that this was once a paradise: the grand hotels, the port, the horizon on a balmy evening, the beach a welcome to the Mediterranean Sea.

But if you look closer, the hotel walls are crumbling and pockmarked with bullet holes, the port is rubble after an Israeli bombing raid, the ocean is polluted with sewage from destroyed infrastructure, and Israeli Navy vessels hover on the horizon ready to shoot fishermen who stray further than a couple of kilometres from the coastline.

The people of Gaza are gracious, composed, passionate, even light. Yet you can’t help but wonder what they’ve seen and been through. We learn that every family here has suffered a death or major trauma due to Israeli aggression.

Occasionally you see the cracks showing the suffering. You see a child sit motionless, dazed while their friends play around them. You see a hotel porter’s eyes dart around as if he were reliving an explosion.

The pain tuns deep, but the people offer us whatever they have. Despite 38 percent of Gazan families living below the poverty line, we are fed well, hospitality knows no boundaries here.

Itr’s humbling that in a place where electricity blackouts occur up to 12 hours a day, we’re offered air conditioning and all the creature comforts you might expect anywhere else.

Like anyone else, Gaza’s people find a haven to go and dream. This is the beach. Children play in the sea while their parents watch from the shore, despite the lights on the horizon indicating that Israeli Navy boats are watching and waiting.

This is beautiful Gaza, but Gaza is under siege.

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