STORY: Location: Gaza City, Gaza
This tiny surfing scene in Gaza provides a sense of freedom
With Gaza's land borders controlled by neighboring Israel and Egypt
the seaside is a precious resource for people to relax
[Mohammad Jawad Abu Ghanim, Palestinian surfer from Gaza]
"When we surf in Gaza we feel freedom, peace, we feel that a heavy weight is lifted off our chests, we wish we could compete abroad though, that the borders will be open and that we can participate abroad, to surf abroad, to at least try out our hobby abroad."
Getting boards and wetsuits into Gaza is made difficult
by Israeli restrictions aimed at limiting imports
In 2007, an Israeli surfer brought 15 surfboards
after seeing a film of two Palestinians practicing on a makeshift board
A few years later, an American surfer Matthew Olsen helped deliver 30 more
although his attempt to set up a surf club was opposed by Gaza's rulers in Hamas
[Mohammad Rajab Abu Ghanim, Palestinian surfer and lifeguard]
"Although we developed our skills and abilities, it is unfortunate that there are no resources to further develop our skill or master it. Surfboards are forbidden from entering Gaza, a wetsuit for cold weather is forbidden, even the wax for surfboards that can protect me from danger is forbidden."