In support of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip under Israeli siege for some 12 years, the Gaza Surf Project aims to share our life saving and surf culture with Gaza.
The Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine, a sub-committee of the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP), is leading this campaign/project and will host two young people from Gaza who will work with local surf clubs to learn and then set up a Nippers program in Gaza based on the Australian Surf Life Saving Nippers program. Additionally, this project will try to get surf boards and other life saving equipment into Gaza for the use of the local surf clubs. They will be partnered by the Palestine Youth Union.
Surfing in Gaza is no new occurrence. There is in fact a 75-year- old connection between Sydney’s northern beaches and Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline. From 1940 to 1943 members of the Australian 6th Division were stationed in Gaza, under General Thomas Blamey’s command. The Australians were integral to the Allied defence against Nazi Germany’s push from North Africa.
Hundreds of Anzacs were encamped near Gaza beach for training and rest. There, they demonstrated the art of body surfing to local Palestinians and held a big surf carnival with General and Lady Blamey as guests of
One of the surf beaches along Gaza’s 25-mile Mediterranean coastline, with a lifeguard stationThe winner of the open surf race’s Blamey Cup, Max Rose, was a member of the North Narrabeen Surf Club. After Rose’s death, the cup was donated to the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia.
Today there is very little entertainment in Gaza and one of the most important distractions for its war-torn inhabitants is the beach and, remembering the Australian connection, Gaza young enthusiasts have asked to benefit from the experience of this Australian popular sport, including its life saving side.
This initiative will send a message of hope for people who know mostly nothing but despair. It is in this spirit that the former NSW Premier, Mike Baird met with a delegation from the Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine and supported the plan to send surfboards to the people of Gaza, and to develop a nippers program there,
Australian support for the establishment of nipper swim clubs in Israel exists already; the Gaza Surf Project will be a timely demonstration of the Australian policy of even-handedness.