After Banksy, The Parkour Tour of Gaza
Banksy snuck into Gaza last month through its underground tunnels to offer solidarity, visibility, a mock tourism video and art - a weeping woman, kids swinging on a surveillance tower - to its besieged people. In response, Gaza's young parkour team - yes, it exists - have now made their own wry video to offer themselves as tour guides, flipping, spinning, leaping through rubble and urging, "Banksy, come discover my state of Gaza." Despite the devastation around them, they proclaim, "We dream a lot." Tenacity, thy name is Gaza.
Banksy's video, titled “Make This the Year You Discover A New Destination,” features glimpses of a battered Gaza “well away from the tourist track” - tunnels, vast wreckage, crowds of children clambering around the ruins of over 18,000 homes destroyed in last summer's Israeli assault. Alongside the images are ersatz facts - "The locals like it so much they never leave" - followed by harsh reality in parentheses (they're trapped.) He also shows some of the graffiti he did while there: children swinging blithely from a surveillance tower, a mother grieving in a bombed-out house, a kitten sporting a pink bow because, he explains to a puzzled Gazan who asks what it means, "I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website, but on the Internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”
The parkour team's video follows Banksy's sardonic lead, with their leader Abdallah AlQassab inviting him and other viewers to "come and discover us" while noting, "Nearly 50% of us are unemployed, so we are very available to show you around." To the music of Shadia Mansour, Palestine's biggest female hip-hop artist, AlQassab and the rest of the free-running team soar and somersault through the realities of the ruined territory, which "we are happy to share with you...I'm sure we can find you a place to stay (though) there are around 12,000 people here needing homes....We can offer you bread and water (though) 90% of Gaza's water is undrinkable."
The young men end up on a vast, stark beach. "We want to do a lot of things and we dream a lot," says Qassab, looking out to sea. "In spite of all this happening in Gaza, we are here and alive and our spirit is very strong." The guys take off down the beach, whirling, flying, tumbling into the air. Behind them, in the distance, comes a fiery explosion and plume of smoke - presumably Israeli drones - followed by another. The Gaza Parkour Team, all beauty and tough grace, ignores them, and keeps on spinning.