Banned from leaving Gaza, Palestinian group rocks out at border

Smacked with a travel ban after Israel denied permits to leave Gaza through the northern Erez crossing, the musical group Dawaween performed a protest concert on the strip’s border with a windswept demilitarized buffer zone and chain-linked fence in the background.

Dawaween was billed to play the annual Palestine International Festival for Dance and Music, which ran between late July and mid-August with stages in Jerusalem, and cities across the West Bank.

Three days before their act was to go on, Dawaween was handed bad news. Only two of the 11 members of the group were approved by the Israeli civil administration for transit to Jerusalem via Erez to attend their concert.

Forbidden to leave Gaza as a group, Dawaween erected a stage in the town of Beit Hanoun adjacent to the border crossing they would have used. They hooked up generators and plugged in their instruments and speaker system just outside the gates of the first of three checkpoints stretching across a mile and a half of fenced in security posts.

Over the past year, Israel has steadily decreased the number of exit permits given to Palestinians in Gaza. In the summer of 2015 permissions peaked with around 6,000 Palestinians leaving per month in non-medical and business instances. Today that number has dropped in half.

The other crossing, Rafah into Egypt, has remained mostly closed since 2014. It was open for less than 20 days during all of this year.

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