The Gaza Surf Club is based on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Its location is dubbed the 'World's Largest Open-Air Prison,' but despite that, it is still home to one of the most inspiring surfing stories in the world. This surfing community gives people a sneak peek into the rough lives of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, and realizing just how captivating their stories are will provide you with a fresh perspective on life.
What is the Gaza Surf Club?
Approximately 30 surfers make up the Gaza Surf Club, with male and female members of different ages enjoying their time in the sea. In moments of utter chaos and hopelessness, these Palestinian surfers turn to the sea and look at the fantastic waves washing over the shore. They grab their surfboards and head over to the waters for a moment's peace. Finding a small ray of light and happiness keeps them going and fighting in a place where chaos and hostility are normal for its citizens.
A documentary shown in 2016 titled 'The Gaza Surf Club' gives viewers a glimpse into the lives of these strong and inspirational surfers. It showcases a day in their life rather than the club itself. It focuses on their story, how they can face each day, not knowing which battles will come but holding on to the next time they get to be riding the waves on the majestic sea. The documentary earned seven nominations across different International Film Festivals, which gave them the window of opportunity to get their story out there.
These surfers are frustrated by the fact that anyone coming in from either Egypt or Israel can come and go as they please, but they, as citizens, cannot. Despite living near one of the most beautiful seas in the world, they feel imprisoned by it. So, they turned that notion around and made the sea their escape from the problems on their land.
One of the most captivating parts of this community is that they broke societal norms that girls can't swim in the sea because it was viewed as a sin or a disgrace to their family. Little girls and women also find this irresistible connection to the sea. Although a small percentage of them go into the sea, those who do remain a powerful representation.
Understanding The Working Within The Gaza Strip Club
Given the turbulent surroundings in the Gaza Strip, these surfers are also running on limited supplies to continue their love for this sport. With the help of Explore Corps, donations can sometimes come in and be given to these surfers. Unfortunately, the Hamas Government makes importing supplies like surfboards and other equipment nearly impossible. The limited items that do get in are wetsuits and fins.
Since the documentary's premiere, thousands of supporters have wanted to visit the strip or donate supplies. Sadly, the strip was declared a closed military zone, and only a handful of people were permitted in and out of it.
To this day, the Gaza Surf Club is not an official and recognized club in Gaza because of the requirements, and the surfing supplies would be handed over to the government, which all surfers deemed unfair and unacceptable. Regardless, the club has touched many lives with its stories, and people continue to wish the best for them and donate something occasionally.