Skip to main content

Catching songbirds at Gaza's ruined airport




On many days, Hamza Abu Shalhoub is the only person sitting inside the derelict VIP lounge of what used to be Gaza International Airport.

Hemmed in by Egyptian border posts to the south and Israeli watchtowers to the east, he makes a living by trying to trap and sell songbirds, using other caught birds as lures.

Goldfinches are the real prize, he says, because they still sing in captivity. 

He can make $30 for a goldfinch in the market, but has only ever caught one, and usually makes do with lesser catches.

His older brother Shadi, 24, has had more luck, catching 12 goldfinch since he started a decade ago.

It’s not much of a job, rising at dawn every day to spread their nets among the garbage-and-debris strewn former airport buildings. 

But with poverty rife and youth unemployment at 70 percent in Gaza, Shalhoub said he did not have much choice.

He left school seven years ago at the age of nine.

“When I was at school I dreamt of becoming a teacher, but my father took me out of school to help him earn money for the family,” he said, sitting in winter clothes and warming himself in front of a pot of coffee on an open fire.

His favorite subjects were English and Arabic, he said.

“I want to go back to class, but there is no way now because I left school in Grade Four.”

To snare the birds, the brothers tie a string to the leg of a captured goldfinch. 

They hope the sight of a bird on the ground will tempt wild birds to come down, thinking there are worms there to be eaten.

Once the birds land, they flip the nets onto them. They also place three recorders around the airfield, playing sounds of birds. 

They mostly catch smaller birds, which only fetch about $1.5 but still put food on the table.

The brothers chosen hunting ground is itself a symbol of thwarted Palestinian hopes for sovereignty and economic independence, as the Palestinians’ only direct link to the outside world that was not controlled by Israel or Egypt.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton attended the opening ceremony on Dec. 14, 1998, and it was used for a short time by visiting dignitaries, including South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela.

But Israel destroyed its radar antenna and runway a few months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. 

The Israeli government deemed it a security threat at the height of the second Palestinian uprising known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers from Gaza a few years later, in 2005, but maintains tight control of Gaza’s land, air and sea borders, while Egypt controls access from the south.

Israel says the restrictions are to stop weapons entering the Strip and to isolate Hamas, the Islamist movement which has controlled Gaza’s two million population since 2007.

But the economic plight of the Strip has fueled anger. 

A World Bank report in September said Gaza’s economy was collapsing, citing “a combination of war, isolation, and internal division”.

As the conflict grinds on, few now even remember that Gaza once had an airport. 

But Abu Shalhoub, although too young to remember it in operation, sits among the surviving fragments that are a daily reminder.

“I dreamt that the airport was rebuilt,” he said during one break in hunting. 

“I have dreamt I was a passenger and I traveled in a plane.”

“I also dreamt I was back in class.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Armenian protesters block traffic, railways & airport as protest leader loses PM bid

Anti-government protesters disrupted traffic in Armenia’s capital, blocking railways and roads leading to Yerevan International Airport, after the parliament voted against opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan’s bid for interim PM.
Protesters managed to block streets connecting downtown Yerevan to residential districts, disrupting transportation in Armenia’s capital, footage from the scene shows. 
Yerevan’s metro system has also been paralyzed as demonstrators sit on the tracks, preventing trains from passing.
Meanwhile, protesters disrupted traffic on a road leading to Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport, located just 12km from the center of the city. 
Consequently, some passengers had to go the rest of the way on foot in order to catch their flights, according to Sputnik news agency.
Railway services have also been disrupted all across the country amid the demonstrations, a spokesman for South Caucasus Railways confirmed to Interfax. 
Some other highways, including the one connecting th…

Iran Killing Command: The use of firearms in dealing with protesters

The document you see on the image is the order of the commander of the Tehran repressive force to all the units based in the city.

Based on this agenda, the mercenaries of the corrupt government Islamic Republic of Iran have been allowed to use firearms in the event of any protest movement against people by the regime.
This is a murder command.
The repressive force of the law, known to the world's famous police and guardians, should protect the lives of its citizens, by freeing their mercenaries, they allow them to murder Iranians who are protesting the corruption in the government and you have the important message that if you come to the streets in protest of corruption and torture and massacre, we will kill you.
Because, according to criminal Khomeini, maintenance of the system is obligatory.
A corrupt government that is so hideous that spend billions of dollars from the national treasury and popular capitalto the suppression of its people and the countries of the region, must be ov…

ایران فرمان قتل : دستور استفاده از سلاح گرم در برخورد با معترضان

سندی که در تصویر میبینید دستور فرمانده نیروی سرکوبگر انتظامی تهران به همه یگانهای مستقر در این شهر است.
بر اساس این دستور کار ، مزدوران حکومت فاسد نظام جمهوری اسلامی اجازه یافته اند که درصورت بروز هرگونه جنبش اعتراضی از سوی مردم علیه رژیم ، از سلاح گرم استفاده کنند.
این دستور یک فرمان قتل است.
نیروی سرکوبگر انتظامی که به ظاهر و تعریف شناخته شده پلیس در سراسر جهان ، میبایست حافظ جان شهروندان باشد ، با آزاد گذاشتن دست مزدوران چکمه پوش خود انها را مجاز به قتل ایرانیان معترض به فسادهای موجود درلایه های حکومت میکنند و این پیام مهم را در خود دارد که اگر در اعتراض به  فساد و شکنجه و کشتار به خیابانها بریزید شما را خواهیم کشت.
چرا که به گفته خمینی دجال، حفظ نظام از اوجب واجبات است.
حکومت فاسدی که انقدر وقیح هست که میلیاردها دلار از خزانه ملی و سرمایه مردمی را صرف سرکوب مردم خود و کشورهای منطقه میکند باید سرنگون کرد.
اکنون چهل سال است که کشور ما به اشغال این ملایان جنایکتارخونخوار و اسلام تحمیلی در آمده است .
هنوز باورش برای برخی سخت است که درک کنند کشور ما به معنای واقعی کلمه از سوی بنیادگرایان الله…