On March 4-6, 2001, we took a trip to the Gaza Strip with our neighbor to visit his family during the Muslim holiday, Aid al-Adha. The holiday celebrates the end of the Hajj season. It also memoralizes the story of Abraham taking Ishmael to sacrifice him, and God sent a goat to be sacrificed instead. In the Qur'an, it is Abraham's firstborn son Ishmael (and not Isaac, as in the Torah and Bible) who endures the ordeal. At the holiday, an animal is sacrificed, and the meat is distributed to family and especially to the poor. We watched as a cow was sacrificed and butchered, the meat going carefully parceled, wrapped, and sent off with children to its destination. We also saw a remarkable amount of Gaza, and we were impressed by the greenness of the southern Strip. The news just doesn't show this beauty. 

Above, the animals we took note of (and, in the case of the cow, partook of). The nest and egg belong to mourning doves.

These are almonds, still fuzzy and green. You can eat them as they are; they're crunchy and good with salt.

Wild asparagus!

Fields of wheat grow on the strip.

Many people grow these beans in their fields. They're really tasty fresh from the vine.


The orange blossoms smelled wonderful, and the oranges were delicious. The papaya flowers didn't smell, but the very very big fruit were sweet and good.

We found Gaza full of flowers.

Prickly pear cacti mark the landscape, bordering roads and properties, acting as living fences. We noted graffiti (Latin and Arabic script) on a pad; the Arabic spells Mohammad.

Farmers in Gaza are being prevented from exporting their produce. So tomatoes, strawberries, and carnations meant for export to Israel and beyond go to waste. With the closures, farmers cannot even get their produce to Gaza City, only a few kilometers away. And so it rots on the vine, or is tossed on the road.

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