Hawaii Surfer Donates Boards for GazansWhy not? Surfing has a LONG history of being a peaceful sport, catching the waves, the image of the kick-back surfer. Since Hamas has taken over the beaches are safe and crowded. People choose on their OWN to reach out in peace, I say Mahalo to Mr. Paskowitz and others.
Young men explore freedom atop the surf along Gaza's coast
Lying on his battered board, he scanned the horizon. The turquoise water glittered in the midday sun.
Moments later, he caught a wave, effortlessly.
Back at the shore, Ahmed Abu Hassan, a 28-year-old Palestinian, pulled his board from the water and walked along the Gaza beach where green Hamas flags competed for space with red and yellow umbrellas. It looked as if Islamic militants and ice cream vendors had engaged in a turf war over the golden sand.
"It's a joy," said Hassan, a taciturn and graceful surfer.
If surfing is a quest for freedom, nowhere is such a pursuit more relevant than in Gaza -- an overcrowded, poverty-stricken strip of land on the Mediterranean controlled by Hamas and cut off from the rest of the world by Israel.
"Gaza is like a prison," said Bashire Watfa, owner of the Al Shira (or the Sail) beach cafe. "There's nowhere to breathe except the beach."
Rival Palestinian factions recently fought running street battles among the scarred apartment blocks that tower over downtown Gaza City. After weeks of bloodletting, Hamas prevailed over the more secular Fatah forces. In response, Israel quickly shut down its border crossings with Gaza, allowing only limited international aid to enter.
For the surfers of the Gaza Strip, the popular Al Deira beach is a refuge where catching the perfect wave trumps politics.
"We go to the beach to forget about the suffering," said Mohammed Juda, 20, who surfs with his brother, Wadia, 15. The Juda brothers, who paddle out into the surf every morning at 6, wore identical blue T-shirts and black bathing shorts.