Day 28: Drinking the Sea at Gaza

Across the first month of 2020, Sophie Baggott is sharing her thirty favourite books by women from across the world. Find out more about her project to read women writers from every country worldwide here.

My choice for Israel had to focus on the occupation of Palestine – Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights Under Siege by Amira Hass (tr. Maxine Nunn) is a harrowing but vital book written by a journalist who has lived with Palestinians for many years. Recommended.

a nutshell: an Israeli reporter reflects on what she saw and heard while living in Gaza, from moments of abject grief to resilient humour

a line: at one point Hass describes leaving her friends’ house in Khan Yunis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip, where her friends had no running water during the day and only a limited supply of salty water at other times; she reaches the Israeli settlement of Neve Dekalim and drinks from a restroom tap – “Sweet and refreshing, the free-flowing water still had an aftertaste, the bitter flavor – I couldn’t help but imagine – of apartheid”

an image: Hass describes mangled heaps of rubble (homes demolished as a ‘deterrent’) as bearing witness to the ravaged lives of Gaza’s people like the rings of a tree trunk marking the passage of time

a thought: the chapter about the agony of obtaining exit permits for families suffering with ill-health is harrowing to read, particularly the sections on injured/unwell children in need of treatment

a fact: Hass’s desire to live in Gaza stemmed from the dread of being a bystander – a legacy of her mother’s memory of some German women looking with indifferent curiosity as she was herded from a cattle car to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in 1944; to Hass, Gaza embodies the central contradiction of the State of Israel, that is, democracy for some, dispossession for others

want to read Drinking the Sea at Gaza? visit here

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