Gaza children return after a 10-day football trip in Ireland 

The Al Helal football club (All aged between 10 and 14 years) from Gaza toured seven cities in Ireland. The project “Gaza kids to Ireland”, initiated by Gaza Action Ireland (GAI), required two long years of work to gather the funds and prepare logistics. GAI was formed by Irish activists who were involved in the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign that was launched to maximise Irish participation in the Freedom Flotilla

The team had “huge difficulties to get the travel permits from the Israeli authorities,” explained Zoe Lawlor, GAI Cordinator.” Five accompanying adults, one of them a female child psychologist were denied access to travel.

It was the very first time the teens could go out of the besieged strip and experience a different culture. They were appreciative of the “kind, generous and warm reception of the Irish people; even people that we randomly met in the streets insisted to offer us meals or ice creams”.

Children in Gaza above 9 years old have experienced three wars in their short lifetime. Thousands suffer from post traumatic stress disorders. Sports and arts function as an escape and provide relief in a reality surrounded by destruction. They now have a “new story to tell, one of freedom, friendship, play and solidarity in Ireland”.
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