Photo Essay Capturing Gaza (II)

In this week's edition of her "Capturing Gaza" series of photo essays, Ceasefire's Gaza correspondent Hama Waqum presents the images the headlines missed.

New in Ceasefire, Photo Essays - Posted on Monday, June 6, 2011 0:00 - 0 Comments

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By Hama Waqum

In this photoblog, activist and writer Hama Waqum brings you details of events in Gaza that haven’t made the headlines.

On May 29, I joined hundreds of Palestinians gathering in Gaza’s fishing port to commemorate the nine Turks killed in the Freedom Flotilla one year ago.

After holding a press conference, we took to boats which had been decorated with Turkish and Palestinian flags, steering circuits around the port.

The village of Khoza in Khan Younis lies beside the Israeli wall and its outposts. Residents shield a main road from bullets using a barrier made of concrete slabs.

But beyond the shield lies another road, which hosts a school and tens of houses, many of which were destroyed during the invasion in 2008-2009, such as the one in this image. Visiting the area, I spoke to Suzanne, whose home was razed two years ago. She is about to rebuild her home, just metres away from the border. “We might face more drones, shells and bullets here than anyone else,” she said, “but Khoza is home.”

On June 1, around 200 Gazans gathered in Khan Younis, near the ‘buffer zone’.

Men, women and children came from all around the Gaza Strip to help the farm-owner to plant fruit and vegetables in his land closest to the buffer zone.

Palestinians wandering into the 300 metre no-go area are likely to be shot at and those tending to nearby farmland often face warning shots after one or two hours of work, driving them off their land.

A view from the field. A white Israeli observation balloon is suspended above the horizon.

The following day I went to Faraheen, southern Gaza to helped harvest a wheat field which was facing similar threats and almost daily warning shots.

On June 5, I headed to a demonstration outside the northern city of Beit Hanoun in commemoration of the Naksa-or setback. Demonstrators were first prevented from entering Beit Hanoun city by Palestinian riot police, but after being allowed through, were later attacked with batons and tear gas by another line of police.

Nobody had been able to make it to the Erez crossing. I headed to another demonstration, further along the border which had been organised by a local Community Centre. Dabka dancers performed in the fields in front of the border wall, just beyond the ‘buffer zone’. A ‘tent of return’ was also erected and demonstrators sang Palestinian songs, ate saaj- a traditional bread and drank Arabic coffee. All while wearing typical Palestinian clothes.

The atmosphere was relaxed and light-hearted, but was lacking in the determination and force that we witnessed in the Nakba day demonstrations, where Palestinians actively put pressure in Israel and asserted their political prowess.

Hama Waqum is a British writer and activist currently based in Gaza.

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