Gaza children find joy in flying kites despite blockade

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SHAFAQNA - The skies of the Gaza Strip, besieged by Israel since 2007, are painted every summer with the shapes and colors of children’s kites.

Standing on a rock near the beach, Muhannad Habbush, 11, is clutching the string of his kite; star-shaped and colored in yellow and blue.

The higher the kite travels upwards in the Gazan breeze, the happier Muhannad feels, he told reporters.

“I want it to fly up as high as it can, because our lives are all about sieges and closed crossings,” he said.

Accompanying Muhannad is a number of his relatives, competing to launch kites and fly them high into the sky.

Power outages, lasting for hours at a time, limit traditional forms of entertainment in the besieged enclave.

Muhannad believes kites provide a breath of fresh air for young Gazan boys to escape the siege.

Sawsan Naim, a 36-year-old mother of four, says her children ask her every day to go to the seaside to buy kites to play with.

“In the summer holiday, kites are always with them,” she told Anadolu Agency. “Children are extremely happy holding the kite strings.”

Gaza beach turns into a festival of colors during the holidays, with hundreds of kites of all different shapes, sizes and colors hanging freely in the summer breeze.

Moanis Abu Askar, 12, told Anadolu Agency that he was proud that his kite flew higher than those of his friends.

“In the afternoon every day, I go along with my friends to play with kites,” he said. “To make them, we use colored cardboard, strings and palm wood. We are very happy to see them flying high.”

The kites are a source of entertainment for children in the besieged Gaza Strip, but for those like Saadi al-Nabih, 45, they are also a source of income.

“I only need colored cardboard, strings and lightweight wooden sticks to start manufacturing kites in shapes of the Palestinian flag or favorite children’s cartoon characters,” he told Anadolu Agency. “I sell them at the seaside for the equivalent of one or one and half dollars.”

By selling kites, Nabih can provide for his family of seven children with his daily income of $20.

With the increase in demand for kites driven by children in Gaza, some shops have begun to specialize in making and selling kites.

Anwar Simon, 30, has opened up one such kite shop.

“The hobby of the children in summer is a source of livelihood for us, considering the unemployment and blockade,” he said.

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