Part of record-setting canvas created by Gaza children.
Credit: UN News Service
The children of Gaza are on a roll, as far as the Guiness Book of World Records goes. A few days ago, as part of the fifth annual Summer Games organized by UNRWA, 5,922 Gaza kids set a world record for creating the largest-ever hand painting - a 5,620-square-metre mosaic of handprints. Last week 2,011 of them set a world record for the largest number of soccer balls dribbled simultaneously. (Last year and the year before they set similar records with basketballs.) In late June about 3,520 of them "flew" (actually flapped, as best I can tell) 176 brightly colored parachutes, shattering a record set five years ago by 1,547 English children playing with 58 parachutes. And on July 28 more than 12,000 Gaza kids will attempt to smash the world record, for the third consecutive year, for simultaneous kite flying.
Children throw balls in the air in celebration after breaking world record for simultaneous dribbling at Rafah.
Credit: Adel hanA, ap.
The news reports on these feats are full of poignant and inspiring quotes from the children. After completing their giant hand-printed canvas, they celebrated their feat by chanting "we want to live, we want to play, we want the world to see" and waving Palestinian flags, according to a Xinhua report. "I drew my hand in the fabric and when I put my hand there, I felt like I reached the world,” six-year-old Heba Abu Amra of Rafah told a reporter for the UN News Service covering the hand-printing project.
It's all very inspiring - further proof of the remarkable resilience the Palestinians have demonstrated for decades. Or, to put it another way, their determination to stay human, in the face of a world that blesses Israel's denial of their humanity.
Of course, it's not hard to see the other side of this story: for all the joy I'm sure the Summer Games bring to the children of Gaza and their families, they also serve to divert attention from the crueler realities of these children's lives: most of their families are dependent on international charity for survival; 45 percent of their parents are unemployed; 85 percent of their drinking water is contaminated; many still don't have permanent homes because Israel hasn't allowed reconstruction of the homes it destroyed during Operation Cast Lead; their schools are desperately overcrowded and underequipped; medical care is grossly inadequate (28 percent of essential medicines are out of stock, for example); and so on.
As the photo below shows, the very governments that have supported and assisted Israel in imposing these conditions boast about their generosity in supporting the Summer Games. Talk about adding insult to injury!