Rollerblading has become a popular pastime in Gaza where nearly half the 1.9 million population is unemployed
Rollerblading has become a popular pastime in Gaza where nearly half the 1.9 million population is unemployed © Mahmud Hams - AFP
Rollerblading has become a popular pastime in Gaza where nearly half the 1.9 million population is unemployed
AFP
Last updated: August 29, 2016

Youth movement: Gazans take up rollerblading

Banner Icon Young people have turned to rollerblading in the Gaza Strip, gliding along the Palestinian enclave's waterfront with used equipment that can be bought at a popular flea market.

The sport requires little gear -- which is important in Gaza, hit by three wars with Israel since 2008 and under an Israeli blockade for a decade.

Nearly half the 1.9 million population in the strip run by Islamist movement Hamas is unemployed.

"The rollerblades are not available in Gaza. It's complicated for us to find some," said Rajab Al-Rifi, a 20-year-old rollerblader from Gaza City.

"We go to the Yarmouk souk, which is a second-hand market with goods from Israel. They are considered cast-offs from Israel, but we buy them, we fix them and then we can use them."

The rollerbladers join bikers, joggers and horse- and camel-riders on Gaza's Mediterranean coastline, weaving their movements and jumping from steps.

They sometimes draw curious looks, including from city employees who stopped with their brooms in hand to watch.

"When the people see us, they are happy," said Mohammed Hajjaj, 17.

But the rollerbladers say more should be done to develop the sport in Gaza.

"We don’t have any support in Gaza," said Rifi.

"There is no club for rollerblades... There is nothing for us here."

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