Julie Webb-Pullman reports

I’m back – boots and all!

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Not that I have been anywhere except Gaza since my last post – the Israeli-Egyptian siege has seen to that. Helped by being barefoot, because my shoes were pinched from the mosque…. which is what I am writing about today.

Not the theft of my shoes in particular, but the desperation that it represents.

Honesty is not just the best policy, but it is pretty fundamental to Islam, and something that is taken very seriously. The sanctity of the mosque, Ramadan, and Jummah even more so.

Which is why it is a telling measure of just how difficult life has become in Gaza, that people are resorting to stealing shoes from the mosque.

Sure there have always been such occasional thefts – but not on the scale they are now occurring.

Three members of one family I know have had their shoes vanish on different days in the past month, from the same mosque in an impoverished neighbourhood of Gaza City. Mine disappeared from there also. There wasn’t even a pair left behind that I could wear home!!

Yesterday, it was the father’s turn to arrive home barefoot after the Jummah prayer.

An indication of just how desperate the people taking them are, is that with the exception of mine, which were relatively new, the stolen shoes have all been old and well-worn – hardly the target of a sophisticated thief, but more like the desperate act of someone perhaps figuring that the owner, being able to afford a pair in the first place and given they were almost worn out, would just have to buy a new pair a bit earlier, thus keeping two people shod.

Because for sure the shoes they stole were not going to be on-sold for a profit, or to dance up a storm – none of them were good enough for that.

Their fate was more likely to trudge the streets selling tissues, or to try to get work as a labourer, or to carry their sick child to the hospital.

I harbour the secret hope that maybe someone is stockpiling them, for when pompous international politicians and ‘peace-makers’ visit……


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