Gaza freerunner jumps over a Hamas road block

Here is another article about parkour, or freerunning, but this time it is about 30 kids doing it in the ruins of Gaza. They learn techniques from the internet and dream of going to an upcoming international competition in Miami next year.

I love some of the comments and observations. Pretty unique. Shows their intense living conditions and determination:

Calling themselves the Gaza Parkour Team and practicing with a rotating crew of like-minded edgy acrobats, they spend their days rehearsing routines and teaching the sport to schoolchildren. The local graveyard serves as their practice arena. As Enshasy puts it, “The dead people don’t mind.”

Among the headstones of local dignitaries and graffiti commemorating militants are bullet holes from battles between Palestinian factions and Israeli troops, who were once based in the former Jewish settlement that adjoins the cemetery. “I have witnessed war, invasion and killing,” Enshasy says. “When I was a kid and I saw these things, blood and injuries, I didn’t know what it all meant.”

Ahmad al-Jakhbeer and Enshasy perform gravity-defying acrobatics in the ruins of the Gaza International Airport about eight miles from their home in a refugee camp.

He and Jakhbeer, 22, are wary of straying too near the Hamas training zone, just as they are wary of leaving their homes when Israeli drones appear in the sky over their cinder-block refugee camp. They prefer the comparative safety of their daring leaps and bone-shattering landings. They believe that, one day, their ticket out of Gaza will be written by parkour.

According to Jakhbeer, parkour helps untangle the “anger and depression” that comes with living where they do. Indeed, nowhere could a philosophy of escape and freedom have a greater resonance than in the narrow, politically and militarily confined Gaza Strip, home to a boxed-in population of 1.7 million Palestinians.

Though the only Israelis Jakhbeer and Enshasy have ever met are settlers and soldiers, at whom they threw stones as children, they say they can separate their feelings about Israel’s politics from its people, to whom they bear no ill will. They see themselves as athletes first and not political figures of any sort.

One obstacle to their ambition to be professional athletes is pressure to get a job, not easy in an area of high unemployment. Jakhbeer, in particular, says his family is nagging him to start bringing money in. For the moment he has managed to resist and to continue devoting himself to parkour.

Parkour originated in the suburbs of Paris and is a corruption of the French word “parcours,” meaning route or journey. In a very literal sense, the sport is about overcoming barriers, living beyond the restraints of physics. It inspires a philosophical outlook on life that mirrors the actions of its athletes.

freerunning in the war-torn ruins of Gaza with Palestinian flags for capes

If you want to learn more about this sport, check out some earlier-posted videos here.