Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sunset on the beach, from the Beach Hotel

Where we stay in Gaza is the aptly named "The Beach Hotel" forget anything about the book by Alex Garland or the movie with Leonard De Capprio, and the chances of the all girl group "All Saints" singing here "Pure Shores" are non existant.

The Beach Hotel naturally overlooks the beach, but before you conjure up images of Bondi Beach or Baywatch with Pamela Anderson running in slo motion down golden sands let us establish one thing this is Gaza.

The Beach could double for a rubbish tip anywhere else, I doubt that there has ever been a clean up program on the sands here rather a high tide either drags waste back out to sea or pushes it up to the high tide mark, I should also add that Gaza has no effective sewerage system so lets not kid ourselves where the waste of 1.4 million people ends up. Everytime I have the temptation to go for a swim I remember that one fact and figure that a relaxing dip in the sea is not worth an ear or eye infection.

Correspondant Jonathan Hunt and I are covering the events down here over the weekend shift and actually managed to get out of the office before sunset, and if anything so far on this trip I wanted to try and eat my meal when I could actually see the meal, I always have a grilled fish whole and more often than not it is good luck and not good fish eating skills that allows me to avoid the fish bones.

It was also the chance to look at life on the beach here and how families can relax in the atmosphere that exists here.

The first thing that is clear is that there are no swim suits, men wear work shorts and the woman ... They wear traditional full length Palestinian dress complete with head dress , not a full habiya (as in Saudi Arabia, where only the eyes are visible) but a head scarf that is traditional islamic dress. The woman play at the waters edge and as the sun goes down more of them venture out into the water.

It gives you a reflection that this is a serious traditional society and values of modesty are taken serious, there is no skin showing on any female anywhere on the beach.

The males play with males only, no young people sit in groups and talk, everything is segregated and only families are visible.

For many Gaza residents the beach is the only place to relax.

Two weeks ago a family of 8 died on a beach down here in Gaza an artlllery shell exploded, Israel denies firing a shell onto the beach and blames a mine planted by Hamas for the deaths.

They were just a family having a day out on the beach, like all the other families we sat and watched last night

Gaza City

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