Photos: Gazans Turn to the Sea to Escape War Trauma

Photos: Gazans Turn to the Sea to Escape War Trauma

February 20, 2015

By Basel Yazouri

Living under siege for nine continuous years, Gazans face the complete closure of all border crossings by heading towards their only escape: the sea.

Six months after the last Israeli offensive against the strip, the sea is one of the only open spaces that people in Gaza can enjoy, and it’s an important source of food and income despite restrictions and attacks that fishermen face on a daily basis from Israel, which is preventing them from accessing the six nautical miles from the Gaza shore agreed upon in the latest truce, and limiting them to three nautical miles only. This affects the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Gazans who depend on this tough job.

Last week the region was hit by a storm with strong winds and heavy rain. This weather makes it impossible for fishermen to work, and their boats remain in the harbor. But that’s when surfers appear.

I met a number of young men surfing in the stormy weather. “I play this sport since I was 12,” says Taha Baker, 26 years old, known among his friends as “the dolphin”. “This is the only way I can express myself freely.” Taha and his friends turn to the sea as the last resort to escape the difficult conditions in the Gaza strip.

Taha says that there are few days when the weather is suitable for surfing. “That’s why it’s dangerous,” he says, “because the waves that work for us only happen in winter during storms.”

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Northern Gaza strip during the sand storm that hit the region last week, February 11, 2015.
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Children sit by the fire next to their humble kiosk and the rubble of destroyed homes in the Shaja’iyah neighbourhood, which suffered heavy air strikes during the Israel aggression last August. February 11, 2015.
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A boy pushes a water cart to his house in the destroyed Shaja’iyah neighborhood east of Gaza City. Many houses still have no running water or electricity. February 11, 2015.
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Young men spend time at the harbour and watch the sea and cloudy sky. Gaza’s shoreline is 40km long, and is patrolled by the Israeli Navy, which limits fishermen’s access to only three nautical miles from the shore. February 13, 2015.
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Surfers warm up before they ride the waves on a cold stormy day. February 13, 2015.
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Surfers look for the best spot to ride waves, February 13, 2015.
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Fishermen at Gaza’s harbor check their nets after the strong wind prevented them from sailing. February 13, 2015.
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The fishing limit was extended from three nautical miles to six after the 2012 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, but it has been reduced back to three nautical miles. When fishing boats approach or exceed the limit, they face attacks from Israeli naval forces that patrol Gaza’s shore.
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A boy rides his bicycle at the harbor despite the rain. February 13, 2015.
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A small boat sails across from Gaza’s shore the day before the storm and strong wind arrive. Despite the Israeli restrictions, fishing remains an important source of food and income for many families in Gaza. February 6, 2015.
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Taha Baker, 26, on his way to surf on this windy day. February 13, 2015.
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A couple enjoy the sunset on a cloudy day. February 6, 2015.
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