The UN-organized Summer Games held last year allowed Gaza children to compete, dance and paint. The words 'with the help of God we will win” take on a different meaning.
GAZA — In the year since Israeli fighter jets and troops invaded this coastal Palestinian strip to stop rocket fire, time seems to have stood still. A blockade imposed by both Israel and Egypt to isolate the Hamas government bars the vast majority of goods and people from moving in or out. That means there is no reconstruction of destroyed buildings. Thousands remain homeless. Winter has arrived.
With humanitarian aid staving off hunger and disease, perhaps the hardest part for people here is the feeling of having been forsaken. The economy is closed down and the exits have been shuttered; a pall of listlessness hovers.
But there are thousands of stories in the wake of the war and in the face of the blockade. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem decided to do something about getting them out, especially to an Israeli audience. Months ago it distributed video cameras to 18 young people in Gaza and set them up with an instructor and Web guidance. The assignment: tell us about your lives.
“The idea was to help people there communicate their struggles to Israelis, to combat the fear and stereotypes,” said Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for B’Tselem. “They are an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv but so much farther for most Israelis.”
The result is a series of short subtitled videos on a variety of topics: working in the smuggling tunnels from the Egyptian Sinai, how the wounded are doing, a profile of a girls’ soccer team.
Israel’s biggest news Web site, Ynet, which belongs to the Yediot Aharonot newspaper group, has just posted five of the videos under the headline “Gaza: An inside look.” Because so little from Gaza makes it into the Israeli news media — Israeli journalists, like all Israelis, have been barred by their government from entering for more than three years — this is something of a new frontier.
“We thought it very important to show the Israeli public the other side of the conflict,” said Yael Golan, news director of Ynet, which gets one million unique hits a day. “With these videos we have a chance to show what we can’t normally show.”Related Links