IN FIVE WEEKS of protests - 46 people have been killed and hundreds more have been badly wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

WITH 64% unemployment rate among the young, Gaza, under a blockade maintained by Israel and Egypt for years, presents countless men like Mr. Gerim with the grimmest of options.

They can seek education in preparation for lives and careers that now seem out of reach, and hope for a chance to eventually emigrate. They can join groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad, devoting themselves to armed conflict with Israel in return for a livelihood and sense of purpose and belonging.

Or they can stay home, staving off boredom by smoking shisha, a tobacco-molasses mix, or stronger stuff, and wait for things to change. 

Mr. Gerrim considers himself neither a terrorist nor a freedom fighter. He is not much for prayer or for politics; he says he does belong to Hamas or Fatha or any other faction-

He is a young man with nothing to do, for whom the protests have offered a chance to barbecue with friends late in the night, sleep late most mornings, make himself useful-

While singing songs of  love or martyrdom or an an end to suffering, and lash out at a hated enemy all afternoon.

''It doesn't matter to me if they shoot me or not, '' he said in a quiet moment inside his family tent.........

''Death or Life..................is the same thing.''

The protest, with outdoor festival's schedule of fun and games, performances and creative programming - and carnage every Friday - is meant to build to a climax on May 15-

The day Palestinians mark the Nakba, or catastrophe, of their fight and expulsion when Israel was established 70 years ago.

The protest, which grew out of a young activist's Facebook page and was in a grass-roots initiative before being embraced, organized and publicized by Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules Gaza, has already scared the Israelis into altering their basic policy.

Israel continues to treat the coastal enclave like a deadly virus to be quarantined and, other than that, more or less tunes it out.

But it has been a success in one important respect: it has cast a light onto the unsolved problem that is  Gaza and reminded a world -

That had seemed to move on to more urgent crises that its two million people, deprived of clean water, freedom of movement and a steady supply of electricity are sliding steadily into despair. 

Mr. Gerim is typical in another way : He does not think of  Gaza as his home, but he has no idea what home is.

His grandmother, Hanyia aI-kurdi, 80 was a little girl when her family left what is now Ashdod, Israel, in 1948. She had never been back but has heard that there is a coffee shop next to where her home was.

The Sadness of History and in Honor and Serving of the latest Operational Research on Gazans continues to Part 3.


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