Feature: Street carnival shows beautiful, peaceful face of Gaza
by Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The image that comes out from the Gaza Strip to the world is usually bleak, sad and violent.
However, the world might be amazed and shocked to see an image of a street carnival in Gaza City gathering 120 clowns, artists and musicians from the besieged coastal enclave.
The Gaza Street Carnival kicked off on Thursday afternoon with participants joining and marching in the main street.
The carnival was made jointly with another activity, the Street Museum, a one-hour exhibition of 24 portraits painted by Palestinian and European painters and artists.
A local Gaza music band and a Palestinian traditional dancing group also joined the carnival.
Several shows of circus were performed before the audience, where clowns wearing colourful dresses played with children.
"It is the first time for me to attend such a huge carnival. We only see such kind of carnivals on television," said Haytham Ramadan, a 17-year-old teenager from Gaza.
According to the carnival's organizers, a group called "Youth without Borders" in Gaza City organized the carnival and exhibition in partnership with Palestinian Vision Association. The whole project was funded by the European Union.
Mohamed Abu Rjeila, the carnival's coordinator, told Xinhua that holding the carnival aims at integrating Palestinian and European cultures.
Hundreds of men, women and children, who expressed deep joy and happiness, attended the carnival and marched together with the clowns and artists.
"I'm very glad to attend this carnival that brought joy, optimism and happiness to me," the teenager added.
"The aim of this carnival is to tell the world that Gaza doesn't only have gloomy, dark, sad and violent face but also has another beautiful face," said Abu Rjeila.
"Gaza's populations love life and want to live in peace, freedom and independence like other people in the world," Abu Rjeila added.
Gaza Strip has been placed under a tight Israeli blockade since Hamas seized the territory after routing forces loyal to President Abbas in 2007.
The blockade has badly influenced the daily life of Gaza's 2 million people and caused a deterioration of the humanitarian situation.
Since March 30, the Palestinians have been organizing weekly anti-Israel marches and protests in eastern and northern Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel, calling for ending Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, the Israeli army has shot dead at least 223 Palestinians and wounded more than 24,000.
The carnival's organizers said that the aim of the carnival is to get the children out of these wars which were a nightmare for them.
"This is not only a street carnival. It is a festival that reflects the civilized face of the Gaza Strip," said Abu Rjeila.
"Our activities send a clear message to the world that Gaza is not an area of war that is full of tents and debris. Gaza has joy, creation and arts," Abu Rjeila added.