The Happy Arab News Service

Friday, April 6, 2007

Making Fun in Gaza

Despite atrocious economic and social conditions in Gaza, the human spirit is live and kicking there defying all external circumstances. The situation may be bad and rapidly deteriorating, yet many people found ways to better their days by practicing traditional games and sports.

Here for example the Palestinians engage in a very popular game of jumping through a ring of fire.

This is a very cool way to kill your time if you are bored, though i am worried a bit about the guy on the ground as he seems to have underwent a really hard crash landing.

And here is one of the top favorite national sports in Gaza - shelling Israel with home made Kassam rockets. The team whose Kassam gets Ashkelon will be declared the winner and national champions.

Recently, under the influence of news from Iraq, many Gaza residents got very excited about a new but already highly popular sport that's taking the Arab world by storm these days, known under the name of truck bombing. Unfortunately due to the security fence and to the severe shortage of trucks in the strip the National Sports Association is still unable to organize a nationwide competition despite numerous requests from potential participants.

April 07, 2007

Gaza Collapsing

Palestinian officials express fear that the UN would formally declare the Gaza strip a dangerous zone. Such fears were expressed publicly and in interviews with the Jerusalem Post by such prominent figures as Yasser Abed Rabbo, Saeb Erekat and Muhammad Dahlan. In practical terms such a move would precipitate a massive withdrawal of international organizations from the strip. Last month 25 Palestinians died in Gaza in internal fighting. In the West Bank where the situation still remains significantly better, another 4 were killed.

While the politicians are busy assessing prospects of the Saudi peace initiative and a possible Israeli Sunni alliance against Iran and its proxies in the region, Gaza seem to be entering the stage of final disintegration.

"The Gaza Strip has become worse than Somalia," a prominent human rights activist in Gaza City told the Post. "Thousands of gunmen continue to roam the streets and the new government hasn't done anything to restore law and order. Every day you hear horror stories about people who are killed and wounded. The situation is really intolerable."

Muhammad Dahlan, who was recently appointed PA National Security Adviser, said it was time to admit that a "curse has hit" the Gaza Strip. "Anyone who does not admit that there's a curse in the Gaza Strip does not know what he's talking about," he said.

Dahlan expressed concern over the wave of kidnappings in Gaza, noting that a local engineer who was abducted several months ago was still being held by his captors.

. .

"The Palestinian security establishment needs to undergo major surgery," he added. "The situation is catastrophic and many young men prefer to work for clans and not the security forces."

Probably the real Gaza resembles little of what we are used to think about Gaza. The surging power of clans is tearing apart the social and political structures and while most people still think about Gaza in terms of the Fatah Hamas split, new forces are taking control of the Palestinian street. It is not clear whether Salafis and Islamic Jihad are one and the same, or these are different, yet it is a reasonable bet that Hamas is no longer the mainstream of the Palestinian Islamic radicalism.

For the Palestinians in Gaza, the time has come to pay the bill for the years of unrestrained militancy, for the years of worshiping the spirit of martyrdom that led to over-militarization of all aspects of their society. As the new joint Hamas Fatah government is planning an emergency meeting to work out ways to restore the order, many Palestinians are sinking into deep pessimism about the ability of anybody to prevent Gaza from sliding into the state of total chaos.

"There are too many gangs and weapons out there," said the human rights activist. "No government will be able to create a new situation."

He pointed out that at least 46 civilians had been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip in the past four weeks. The latest kidnappings took place on Thursday, when unidentified gunmen abducted three people, including one woman, in separate incidents.

Most of the kidnappings were related to family feuds and rivalries between political groups, particularly Fatah and Hamas.

Also Thursday, the bullet-riddled body of a Hamas security official, Muhammad Abu Hajileh, was discovered east of Gaza City. Abu Hajileh was a member of Hamas's "Executive Force" in the Gaza Strip.


The politicians and peace loonies may continue to fancy themselves with peace initiatives and strategic alliances, but in practical terms Gaza may soon cease to exist.

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