April 3, 2015

Loaves and Fishes

A good friend of The Bag, who labels herself “a recovering Catholic,” sent me a link to this photo story at The Electronic Intifada, Gaza fishermen ‘in God’s hands‘.” It’s about a Palestinian fisherman who died on his boat, shot by the Israeli Navy inside the six-nautical mile limit imposed on the Gazans.

In the article, Palestinian fisherman describe how few fish can be found inside that barrier in contrast to the potential bounty available just three more nautical miles out. To stray any further than the current line, however,  is to risk the fate suffered by their fellow fisherman, Tawfiq Abu Reyala, who, we’re told, leaves behind a wife, four children and no income. (The article further explains that the boundary, specified by the Oslo accords in ’93, was twenty nautical miles up until last August and the latest bombing and missile campaign.)

The images, shot by Gaza freelance photographer, Ezz Zanoun, would be arresting at any point, the photo above showing a Palestinian fisherman, Hajj Rajab, with his feet entwined, as if captured in (but actually, negotiating) his net. What makes the story particularly fateful, however, is the time of year.

What spawned my friend’s message was her connection of the photos to the story of Jesus and his miraculous production of fishes and loaves for thousands of hungry followers. What is just as poignant, however, is the picture opening the story. Tragically, it’s not that this photograph or this scene from Gaza is unique at all. It’s not that the caption, identifying the victim, his family and the circumstance of his death is remarkable either. What is so impactful, however, is its resonance this Holy Week, today being Good Friday, marked by so many reenactments of the crucifixion.

(photo: Ezz Zanoun caption 1: Hajj Rajab, who has fished up and down Gaza’s coast for more than six decades, says conditions have never been as difficult as the present. caption 2: Tawfiq Abu Reyala’s wife and four children have no income after the fisherman was shot dead by Israeli naval forces.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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