Palestinian youth practice “parkour” skills in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip
A budding physical discipline called parkour is attracting several youth in Gaza, aged between 12 and 23 years old to pass their time training in cemeteries, former Israeli settlements and in abandoned or run-down buildings. Parkour originated in the suburbs of Paris and originates from the French word “parcours,” meaning route or journey. In a very literal sense the sport is about overcoming obstacles, using your imagination and tackling the restraints of physical barriers to “run through” a journey. It inspires a philosophical outlook on life that reflects this acrobatic discipline.
Mohammed al-Jakhbeer and Abdallah Enshsi started this discipline several years ago and they have been providing entertainment and inspiration for several young refugees who are now learning the art of parkour through observation and replication. Mohammed and Abdallah have decided to form a team called Gaza Parkour, they are taking it upon themselves to train the next generation of parkour athletes to ensure youths can experience this liberating physical discipline.
According to Mohammed, parkour helps untangle the “anger and depression” that comes with living in the narrow, politically and militarily confined Gaza Strip, home to a boxed-in population of 1.7 million Palestinians.
They believe that, one day, their ticket out of Gaza will be through parkour even though, they joke, “Gaza International airport used to be our only way out and now it’s in ruins.”
Images by Klaus Thymann via the New York Times