Leaving Gaza

Irishman and award winning photographer Andrew McConnell takes a black and white look at the emergence of surfing on the Gaza Strip…

Echoes of Waikiki with less Aloha out of the water.

Freedom of movement for Palestinians living in the Gaza strip has been so restricted in recent years that the territory is commonly referred to as ‘the largest open-air prison on earth’. In a region where the common narrative is conflict and daily life is marked by constant struggle, surfing offers a means of escape.

The sport in Gaza is still in its infancy; from the first surfer in the mid-eighties there are now 23 surfers each with their own  surfboards, and others who borrow boards when they can. Equipment is impossible to find in the Gaza strip so international donors have helped to get boards and wetsuits into the territory (explorecorps.org report that it took over 2 years to clear boards through Tel Aviv into the Gaza Strip).

For now the group is small, but they are some of the very few who get to escape the confinement, and who find a semblance of freedom, every time the waves come.

Mahmoud Alyrashi going left off gaza city.

16 year old Amer Al Dous, paddle out.

The (strip) Search.

We at bluefingers particularly dig this shot. It’s the sense of anticipation in the back of this packed taxi heading for the beach that makes us giddy.

2fingers.

Is this an inadvertent call for peace, a deliberate act of defiance directed at the oppressor or just the natural anatomical contortion of a hand raised in the fine art of balancing oneself? Your shout…

 

To check out more Andrew McConnell photography go here.