Julie Webb-Pullman in Gaza: Will There Be A Fair Tomorrow?
Will There Be A Fair Tomorrow?Julie Webb-Pullman from Gaza
Choosing a purse
The colleague who called me Tuesday evening called me again today – this time from Al Shifa hospital. He was having both hands treated for burns – the Israeli attack that broke the truce at 2.30am this morning was directed at that same empty training ground he mentioned in my last article.
It set fire to a warehouse where wood and bamboo were stored, and the fire was threatening neighbouring homes, so he and many others tried to put it out with whatever was available – which was not much. Even the fire brigade took over two hours to quell this Israeli inferno, and at the end of it there was nothing left of the warehouse, but there were damaged homes, and yet more damaged bodies.
He did not even notice how badly he had been burnt, the pain only surfacing after the shock, anger, and exhaustion abated – and it was late afternoon before this stoic Gazan succumbed, and sought medical attention.
Meanwhile, many other Gazans had left their houses, attending the several fairs taking place about Gaza City.
A two-day handcraft expo on the waterfront was a big draw-card, showcasing beautiful embroidered garments, cushions, bags and purses, along with pottery, wooden objects, jewellery and all manner of things limited only by the imagination of the women producing them.
The mood was upbeat – although few believe the truce is very much more than a one-sided Palestinian willingness to keep the peace, the chance to celebrate their creativity, share food and music, and relish the richness of their culture was too good an opportunity to miss, and kept such cynicism at bay.
Next was the food fair at Rashad al Shawa Cultural Centre, and a chance to go in the draw to win one of the products on display. And whoever is lucky enough to win one will be well rewarded – several varieties of dates, preserved ginger, cheeses, yoghurts, unique zatar mixes, fruit juices, olives and olive oil – who needs lunch – by the time you left you had sampled enough local products to know the BDS campaign will be no hardship here.
Gaza dates are the best
Last stop was the International Red Cross, where children were holding an event in honour of Hana Shalabi, Palestinian woman political prisoner now in the 28th day of her hunger strike. Candles were propped in the sand, forming the numerals in both Roman and Arabic, surrounded by children holding posters of Hana, while their parents encouraged them from the sidelines. They sang and chanted, as one little girl appeared with wrists in chains, a candle in each hand. Scores more children arrived, the candles were lit, then they left in a procession to the Square of the Unknown Soldier, small symbols of hope in the dark.
But the day ended as it began – skies full of F-16s and apaches, explosions once more shattering the peace.
As I headed home much later beneath the night-song of Israeli warplanes I met a woman whose husband was killed on the weekend – they had only been married a few days. She told me he is the 27th member of her family to have been murdered by the Israelis.
Maybe there will be a fair tomorrow...
Thinking of Hana Shalabi