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Young protesters are defying Israel's blockade with scraps of paper and plastic

By       Message Jonathan Cook       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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From The National

From youtube.com: Gaza Strip Kite Flying {MID-299931}
Gaza Strip Kite Flying
(Image by YouTube, Channel: Diagonal View)
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First Israel built a sophisticated missile interception system named Iron Dome to neutralise the threat of homemade rockets fired out of Gaza.

Next it created technology that could detect and destroy tunnels Palestinians had cut through the parched earth deep under the fences Israel erected to imprison Gaza on all sides.

Israel's priority was to keep Gaza locked down with a blockade and its two million inhabitants invisible.

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Now Israel is facing a new and apparently even tougher challenge: how to stop Palestinian resistance from Gaza using flaming kites, which have set fire to lands close by in Israel. F-16 fighter jets are equipped to take on many foes but not the humble kite.

For Israelis, these various innovations by Palestinians are widely seen as part of the same relentless campaign by Hamas to destroy their country.

But from inside Gaza, things look very different. These initiatives are driven by a mix of recognizably human emotions: a refusal to bow before crushing oppression; a fear of becoming complicit through silence and inaction in being erased and forgotten; and a compelling need to take back control of one's life.

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Palestinians encaged in Gaza, denied entry and exit by Israel via land, sea and air for more than a decade, know that life there is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Most young people are unemployed, much of the infrastructure and housing irreparably damaged, polluted water sources are near-unpotable.

After waves of military attacks, Gaza's children are traumatized with mental scars that might never heal.

This catastrophe was carefully engineered by Israel -- and it renews and enforces it daily.

The kites have long served as a potent symbol of freedom in Gaza. Children have flown them from the few spots in the tiny, congested enclave where people can still breathe -- from rooftops or on Gaza's beaches.

Five years ago, the film Flying Paper documented the successful efforts of Gaza's children to set a new world record for mass kite-flying. The children defied Israel's blockade, which prevents entry of most goods, by making kites from sticks, newspapers and scraps of plastic.

The children's ambition was -- if only briefly -- to retake Gaza's skies, which Israel dominates with its unseen, death-dealing drones that buzz interminably overhead, and with missiles that can flatten a building in seconds.

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A young girl observed of the kite's lure: "When we fly the kite, we know that freedom exists." A message scrawled on one read: "I have the right to pride, education, justice, equality and life."

But the world record attempt was not only about the children's dreams and their defiance. It was intended to highlight Gaza's confinement and to issue a reminder that Palestinians too are human.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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