Thursday, November 13, 2008
A young Palestinian fisherman, Mohammed Ayyash, and Sheikh Kifah, a man highly esteemed in his community- a mediator of conflicts- first met in the Friday fish market near the makeshift port of Gaza City in March of 2007. The atmosphere had been tense as the two opposing political factions Fateh and Hamas had been in conflict challenging each other’s authority to govern a small strip of land that since 1948 was labeled the “Gaza Strip.” Sheikh Kifah had been wandering among the various stalls of the market when fighting broke out and the two men- Mohammed daily sold his catch in the market- found themselves fleeing in the same direction. They took cover in a small alley, hiding behind the shell of an old bullet hole riddled home, as sounds of gunfire filled the air, the two men had exchanged some words. They met again three and a half months later when the young fisherman sought out the sheikh in Zuwaida, a village bordering Mohammed’s hometown Deer Al-Balach.
Sheikh Kifah: Ahlan wa sahlan Mohammed, please come in.
[The two men proceed by inquiring about the wellbeing of each other’s families- since their last encounter heavy internal fighting in Gaza had lead to Hamas’ complete control of the Gaza Strip and the exile of most Fateh leadership. Mohammed then takes the lead in the conversation.]
Mohammed: Sheikh Kifah I should have listened to you when we first met… between you and me I am starting to have my doubts if Hamas is really the answer in Gaza.
Sheikh Kifah: These days are difficult for us all…