21 July 2011 – After breaking the world record for the number of people dribbling soccer balls last week, children at the United Nations-organized summer games in Gaza today set another record by creating the largest ever hand painting, a 5,620-square metre mosaic of handprints on canvas.
The previous record of hand-painted impressions stood at 4,355-square metres.
More than 5,000 children, including some with disabilities, took part in the hand painting competition as part of the annual six-week summer games organized by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The printed canvas was unveiled at the Khan Younis stadium in southern Gaza.
“I had no doubt that the children of Gaza would succeed, as they always do when given the chance”, said Christer Nordahl, UNRWA’s acting Director of Operations in Gaza. “I am delighted to tell you that included in the world record today were many kids with special educational needs. They too deserve to be number one at the top of the world.”
Last week, the children of Gaza broke the world record for the largest number of people dribbling footballs. Prior to that, they set the record for the highest number flying parachutes from the ground. On 28 July, more than 12,000 children will attempt to smash the world record for kite flying.
“We had fun today. We played so much today! We need to live. I drew my hand in the fabric and when I put my hand there, I felt like I reached the world,” said six-year-old Heba Abu Amra from Rafah.
UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness highlighted the problems that both adults and children in Gaza endure as a result of the Israeli blockade.
“The mistreatment of children is an offence to the humanity of all, breaking many taboos. The blockade subjects three quarters of a million children to an illegal collective punishment, rendering their lives unbearable,” said Mr. Gunness.
“It must end, and there must be full transparency and accountability for what the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] has called a ‘clear breach of international law’.”
For five years the UNRWA has staged the Summer Games – which include sports, arts and other activities – to provide a recreational outlet for an estimated 250,000 children in the Gaza Strip. This year’s games coincide with the fifth year of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
(www.un.org / 23.07.2011)