PalFest Gaza 2012

Gaza has been facing a crisis after another for years now. But in spite of that, people in Gaza would always find a way to break the killer routine they have been living for longer than they can remember. About two months ago, a gas crisis has erupted in the Strip killing almost all methods of transportation and factories leaving behind houses sink into darkness for the gas-less generators and streets with almost no cars.

If it wasn’t for the strong-willed nature of the people here, it would be impossible for to go on with life driving the Zionists a bit more upset with every day they make it through. The youth have been doing a lot of hard work trying to break the siege on Gaza Strip for over five years and counting. This includes but not limited to: launching events, hosting international figures to speak or bands to perform or raising awareness on Palestine-related issues or history which is much needed to be known and realized by the youth which represents the majority of the population in Gaza Strip.

Literature is one of the things in life one can never live without, an art not everyone can master. It is also necessary to guarantee better and intellectual generations to better serve the cause and lead to liberating  Palestine.

In a way to break the siege, a group of writers, educators and artists entered Gaza Strip on Saturday, May 06 after hours of waiting at the Egyptian side of Rafah border, the only border between the people in Gaza Strip and the rest of the world. PalFest has officially applied to Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for travel permits into Gaza. Sunday 29th April was the date they were scheduled to have a response till Thursday May 3rd.

Palfest, Palestine Festival of Literature, will take place in Gaza from May 6th to May 9th, with an event in Ramallah on May 5th and a reprise event in Cairo on May 11th.

It has been a longstanding aim of the festival to travel to Gaza. Since it started in 2008 PalFest has taken the form of a travelling festival – moving to audiences constrained and divided by Israel’s military occupation, establishing creative links between Palestine and the rest of the world and pitting the power of culture against the culture of power.

PalFest has tried several times in the past to reach Gaza from the Occupied Palestinian Territories but has never been able to because of the restrictions put in place by the Israeli Occupation. Gaza has been under siege and isolated from the rest of the world since 2007. 

This May, PalFest 2012 will bring a group of writers, educators and artists through the Rafah crossing from Egypt to perform free public events, run workshops with students of varying ages and meet civil society leaders in Gaza.

PalFest has endorsed the 2004 Palestinian call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. PalFest 2012 stands against the siege of Gaza; it is committed to re-invigorating cultural ties between Arab countries, ties that have been eroded for too long. The Festival will be bringing writers and artists from across the Arab world and beyond.

Dr. Haidar Eid, Palfest’s principal partner in Gaza said in a for-immediate-release press release on may 29th: “For the first time, PalFest will conduct activities in besieged Gaza, where Palestinians continue to resist Israel’s illegal blockade which has transformed the occupied Gaza Strip into the world’s largest prison camp. PalFest is a sign of the growing solidarity across borders in our struggle against racism and oppression. Intellectuals and writers played a key role in ending Apartheid in South Africa; likewise, Arab cultural figures are visiting Gaza this year to show solidarity with Palestinian academics and artists in support for their call to increase the global BDS campaign against apartheid Israel.

On behalf of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), we deeply appreciate the Arab writers’ principled and consistent support for the Palestinian civil struggle for justice and peace in Palestine.”

The full list of artists attending PalFest 2012 is:


Ghada Abd el-Al

Alaa Abd el-Fattah

Suad Amiry

Selma Dabbagh

Najwan Darwish

Amr Ezzat

Amin Haddad

Tariq Hamdan

Nathalie Handal

Manal Hassan

Khaled Khamissi

Jamal Mahjoub

Sahar el-Mogy

Khaled Najar

Youssef Rakha

Ahdaf Soueif

Hyam Yared

Nariman Youssef

& the bands Eskenderella, Jafra and al Salam.

Birzeit & Ramallah

Maya Abu el-Hayat

Rachel Holmes

Abd al-Rahim al-Sheikh

Bee Rowlatt

Imad Sayrafi

Events Schedule:


Sunday May 6th

10am: Workshops
All Universities (check with your Arabic and English departments)

4pm: Speeches, presentations and readings by PalFest authors
Golden Media Centre (opposite al Azhar University)

Monday May 7th

4pm: Concert featuring Jafra, Eskenderella & More
Rashad al Shawa


Tuesday May 8th

11am: Workshop
Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah

11am: Workshop
Assria Centre, Jabalia

Wednesday May 9th

5pm: Speeches, presentations and readings by PalFest authors
Dar al Basha (opposite Qasr al Basha)

PalFest will hold its closing event in Cairo at the Rawabet Space for Performing Arts. The event will take the form of a report back from the participants on what they saw and heard and discussed in Gaza. The PalFest Team says: “We believe in the fundamental unity between Egypt and Palestine and hope that these events will forge new connections between the people of Gaza and Cairo”.

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About Nader Elkhuzundar

Nader Elkhuzundar is a commentator on Palestinian affairs and Co-founder of Beyond Compromise ( Elkhuzundar occasionally freelances for The Guardian, International Business Times, and others. He's a social media enthusiast and tech savvy with particular interest in new technologies and analytics, and enjoys reading over Arabic coffee and dark chocolate.
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