Palestinian children watch a movie in a mobile movie theater in Gaza City, Gaza, on August 19. Photo: AFP
For the first time in his life, Aaid al-Qatanani, a young Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, entered a movie theater to watch a foreign film.
The 22-year-old computer engineer was among 40 other young people who sat on red benches in a small cinema hall and ate popcorn while they watched the film.
“It was an incredible feeling to enter the cinema. I have dreamed several times of watching my favorite movie there rather than on television or on websites,” al-Qatanani told the news agency. Xinhua press.
The cinema, different from what is usually seen in other countries, is a mobile cinema, made from a huge passenger bus.
The bus can accommodate around 50 passengers and includes a wheelchair ramp to help people with disabilities. It also has an integrated security system with emergency doors, alarms, firefighting equipment, air conditioning and ventilation and uses solar energy to operate the floodlights.
“For most of my life, I have watched my father, my uncles and the people around me struggle to provide for their families’ basic needs. I don’t remember a time when my parents would take me to the movies to watch movies. Qatanani recalled, saying all they cared about was keeping the family afloat.
Elham Jasir, a young woman from Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, said she felt like she was in another place outside of Gaza when she walked into the cinema.
“For a moment, I felt like I was traveling to another country that has big cinemas,” the 25-year-old said with a smile.
“We need such cinemas in Gaza, especially since they would revive our cultural life which has disappeared amid the crises in Gaza,” she said.
Qatanani and Jasir expressed their hope for living an ordinary life in Gaza and having the means to be entertained and believed that this would help people to let go of their negative energy and internal pressure.
Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007, just after the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) took control of the coastal enclave.
The Israeli blockade, internal Palestinian divisions between Gaza and the West Bank, in addition to the four Israeli wars waged over the past 13 years, have left the territory with high rates of poverty and unemployment.
According to figures from Gaza-based rights groups, 55% of the people of the Gaza Strip, a home for 2 million Palestinians, suffer from depression, while 50% of children in the coastal enclave are in need of help. psychological support.
“In the 1990s, the situation was not like that,” Amina Abed, a 56-year-old woman from Gaza, told Xinhua, saying that “we could go to the movies in Gaza and enjoy our time while living in it. peace and security. “
The woman recalled that she and her friends frequented cinemas to watch dozens of Arab and foreign films without any social restrictions.
Gaza’s first cinema was built in 1944 and by the end of the 1960s there were 10 more.
However, conflicts between political forces and Islamic parties caused cinemas to close during the first Palestinian Intifada in 1987 and they remained closed due to government and political restrictions.
A non-governmental organization, Save Youth Future Society, has started the mobile cinema project to allow Gazans to enjoy their time, according to Engi Abu Obaidullah, the project coordinator.
“We aim to revive art and culture in Gaza and promote positive concepts within Palestinian society and strengthen the presence of all aspects of culture,” she said.
Obaidullah said he hoped the mobile cinema could be the first step in reopening normal cinemas in the coastal enclave, bringing more cultural activities back to people who have suffered enough from the conflict and blockade.