Gaza music students find smart ways around travel ban

Story highlights

  • Gaza Music School was destroyed in Israeli invasion soon after opening three years ago
  • It has been rebuilt and is being taken over by Palestinian national music conservatory
  • School must find innovative ways around Gaza travel restrictions
Elena Lidawi is preparing her piano students to take part in a national competition. Lidawi's students will not perform in front of the judges in person, but by video conferencing.
Lidawi teaches at Gaza Music School and the Palestinian national competition they will enter in March and April is only 50 miles away in Jerusalem.
But the children are unable to leave Gaza because of travel restrictions imposed by Israel. Israel imposed an economic blockade of Gaza when Hamas won control of Gaza in 2007, to stop what it says is the transit of weaponry to be used by militants in attacks on Israel. Movement of people is severely limited.
This is one of many logistical problems faced by staff and students at Gaza Music School, the only music school in the 360 square kilometer strip of land controlled by Israel.
The school was set up three years ago by the UK-based Qattan Foundation and is about to be transferred to the Palestinian Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, which has branches in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus.
Lidawi, a 38-year-old Russian who has lived in Gaza for 12 years, has taught piano at the school since it opened three years ago. She entered pupils into the same bi-annual competition two years ago and was pleased with their performance.