When I visited Gaza in January this year, there were many really memorable moments. One in particular really moved me and stayed with me. On our first day we were down town in Gaza city, just wandering around, soaking it all up. Some of the lads stopped to buy nuts and we were waiting around for them just by the old gold market. Two women came up to me and asked if I was from Dublin, that their brother lived there. I explained I was from Limerick and asked their brother’s name, it was Abraham Deeb. I said I didn’t know him and we chatted for a minute or two. The women went off about their business, but a few minutes later one of them came back and gave me a gift, a pretty, handmade keyring with the Palestinian flag on it. I was touched by this gesture, it was so lovely, I really can’t imagine it happening anywhere other than Palestine. To come across such warmth and unsolicited kindness just walking around a new place is really unusual, not in Gaza it seems….
So I had my keyring as a special memento of my first visit to Gaza and I remembered the man’s name. Last week a friend posted a link to Dervla Murphy’s upcoming talk about her book, A Month By the Sea, Encounters in Gaza on the IPSC page and someone posted this under it: “Would love to be able to go to this talk but I am in Gaza at the moment and I would strongly recommend my friends in Dublin to go.” His name? Abraham Deeb!
I saw the post and commented: “Abraham, are you from Gaza? When I was there in January, a woman came up to me on the street and asked if we were Irish, I said yes. She told me her brother lives in Dublin, I’m sure it was your name, and she gave me a little gift. A beautiful Gazzawi encounter :)”
His response: “Hi Zoe, yes I am from Gaza and yes that was my sister! She told me the story but she didn’t have your name. How beautiful!!”
Mine: “Wow! Mash’allah, that’s amazing! Please say hello to her, it was one of the highlights of my trip. What is your sister’s name?”
Abraham Deeb: “That is really an amazing coincidence. My sisters told me this story when I came over couple of weeks ago without knowing who you are. However, they were my 2 sisters, Aida who spoke with you initially and Nahla who gave you the token gift. They both send you their regards and say you welcome to come back and visit them next time. I sent a message to IPSC wondering if there are any Irish people in Gaza at present and got message back that a group might be coming in June. Unfortunately, I’ll be back in Ireland by then as I am leaving Gaza at end of March. I met some Irish people here and we will be celebrating Paddy’s day next Sunday. I would like to post this story on my FB if that’s ok with you? With best regards.”
Me: “That’s amazing Abraham, and please say hello to Aida and Nahla – I will meet them the next time I’m in Gaza insh’allah. There are a few Irish people there at the moment – I will message you. Of course you can share – I love this story!”
Such a brief encounter, such a coincidence…a real taste of how Gaza gets under skin – it’s the people – every time.
Hopefully I’ll meet Aida and Nahla in Gaza some day and Abraham in Dublin. And again, I love this story.