Gaza, a seaside resort to ease the siege

Children juggle in a donkey-drawn cart, heading north to Peet Lahia beach. A popular beach, Gaza has a reputation for being the least polluted. Men bathe there separately under the huge white chimneys of the Israeli power plant in Ashkelon. Children dig and throw sand around them. The children of Israel did the same in these last days. On the other side of the sea, a no-man’s land forbidden to fishermen.

The sea in Gaza is clean. Officials say so. Swimmers pretend to believe it. Wastewater treatment plants spit out clean water. This rare success is thanks to international donors who are renovating these infrastructures. Fifteen years of systematic destruction by the Israeli blockade of this narrow stretch of coast is a remarkable phenomenon. Gaza wars and murderous expansions continue. In early August, an Israeli bombardment against Islamic Jihad — answered with rockets — killed 49 Palestinians. In the enclave, entertainment is a matter of survival.

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Waji El Shafai, 57, dries under an umbrella. It will be the second time this summer that he has gone to the beach with his family. They rushed there after the shelling. “After prison, fear, we must leave, rest our minds”, explains the municipal employee. They brought something for a picnic, tea, coffee, they paid only for the place on the sandy beach – 20 shekels (6 euros). “We’re not going to leave! »He laughs, pointing to his three daughters floating in the distance, their voluminous dresses drawing black circles in the water.

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Khadija, 26, hasn’t been to the beach in three years. First, Hamas has closed access to the sea during its confinement due to Covid-19. Then the shortage of money. This day costs him 10 shekels (3 euros). Pale-faced, she bathes, dresses, veils and waits for the sun to set. He has to rush home to put the last of his five children to bed. At night, after 11 o’clock the beaches are not crowded.

Three new wastewater treatment plants

Hot molasses uncooled by water. But what else to do when there is no electricity? It operates in six- to eight-hour increments, during this harsh summer. “Here is heavenKhadija says. At home, I feel like I’m in prison. I have nothing for myself and can do nothing but pray and take care of the children. When I need rest, I take a shower. The sea, I talk to her, she is my friend. »

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