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The untold story of Gaza's beaches

February 13, 2014 at 2:56 am


As summer arrived, Gaza residents rushed to the sea to enjoy the sunny beaches, the only free amusement in their besieged enclave. Crowded with thousands of young children, adults and carts pulled by animals or pushed by children, the beach reflects the nature of their lives.

Like other people they love freedom and they love to go out. Some families go to the sea once or twice a week, children more than three times. Owners of restaurants and facilities serving summer visitors are doing their best to seize the opportunity to make a good income during the summer.

But there is one group of children who cannot either swim or enjoy themselves as the others do. They carry trays or push small carts full of desserts or sea kits and wander the beach to sell their wares. They do the work of their unemployed fathers who sit at home without any income.

Mohamed Selmi, 12, pushes his cart and sells lupine. He says that he works during the summer holiday in order to earn money to help him buy school kits for him and his two sisters for the next school year.

Ali, 10, says that he works in order to save money to buy new clothes to wear for the three day Eid that follows Ramadan.

There are other details that spoil the summer for Gaza residents. The beach is very beautiful, especially in the evening when you swim in the golden sea water while watching the sunset, but this is not case all the way along the coast.

There are large spots where swimming is prevented; these are the places where Gaza’s waste water is disposed. Due to shortage of fuel and cuts of electricity, not all sewage treatment facilities are working efficiently and fully and untreated sewage is being poured into the sea. As a result large areas of the sea coast are polluted and summer visitors leave them empty.

Spending time on the beach is restricted to the day. When the sun sets in the evening, people have to leave because fire-fighters and municipality lifeguards in Gaza do not have the equipment to supervise people when the daylight fades.

When you look at the faces of Gaza’s residents you read thousands of sad stories, but when you speak to them you feel that despite all their sufferings they insist on living their normal life like any nation in the world.

MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad

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