On our way to Beit Lahiya today, we stopped for a quick tea at the YMCA. The summer games were in full flight. I saw a European looking boy in the middle of a hockey game, and like the intimate world that we Palestinians live in, it turns out that he is my sister in law’s second cousin, with a German mother to explain his looks and height!

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The kids thought that they were playing hockey, but it was an easy mistake to make. They weren’t really playing hockey. They were running in packs all following the puck, swinging wildly at each other’s legs, with no one on the field ever more than 2 metres away from the puck. No, what they were really doing was demonstrating that they are exactly like all the other kids in the world, even down to the little act of hounding a ball or puck in packs rather than playing into space. Just like other kids. Except that last night, an empty ground in the middle of these kids’ homes was pounded by heavy Israeli airpower to ensure that they got no sleep with the explosions and subsequent crying and screaming.

In another part of the YMCA grounds, a Palestinian boy of around 17 or 18 is playing tabla, the Palestinian drum. He plays so loudly and enthusiastically that all the kids around him join in clapping and singing. Not averse to a good rhythm, I am trying not to dad-dance a dabke around them. What you can barely hear are some explosions in the background, which are nearly entirely masked by the drumming. Nearly. Drowning out explosions of war with music and dance.

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