Flying high in Gaza

Posted: July 28, 2011 by Rex Brynen in Gaza, UNRWA
Tags: ,

Another world record has been set the kids of Gaza at the 2011 UNRWA Summer Games:

(Reuters) – Some 15,000 children flew kites over the Gaza Strip on Thursday, claiming a new world record for most kites flown simultaneously and raising cheers in the Palestinian enclave that is more used to poverty and conflict.

The launch on a golden beach within view of an imposing Israeli power station across the border took place despite overnight vandalism of facilities set up by a U.N. humanitarian agency.

Chris Gunness, the spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said verifiers had so far tallied at least 13,000 kites were flown and the final figure would be published on Friday.

“The children broke the record today, it was absolutely beautiful,” said Julia Hurley, one of a group of visitors to the Gaza Strip who had come to verify the record.

The previous record, 10,465, was set in April in Weifang City, China, according to the Guinness World Records.

Vandals struck an UNRWA youth centre in the Gaza Strip hours before the record attempt, a spokesman and witnesses said, but it did not prevent the flyers flying their kites and dotting the clear blue Mediterranean skies.

It said 10 people, so far unidentified, had torched a stage at the “Summer Games” facility and burned a U.N. flag and damaged a billboard. No one was hurt.

UNRWA tends to Palestinian refugees from wars with Israel and their descendants who make up around half of Gaza’s 1.5 million population.

UNRWA’s mixed-gender schools have at times raised hackles in the Hamas-ruled enclave and two years ago suspected Islamist gunmen set fire to a U.N.-run facility in Gaza.

An album of excellent pictures from the successful world record effort can be seen via UNRWA’s Facebook page. For background on some of the tensions surrounding current UNRWA activities in Gaza and Lebanon, see the earlier PRRN blog post here.

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