Palestinian comedians in Gaza have released the above video spoofing the viral “Epic Split” Volvo advertisement that features Belgian martial artist and action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme (the original ad is below if you haven’t seen it).
In their video, Mahmoud Zuaiter performs the acrobatics while a voiceover tells about the sharp deterioration of daily life due to the catastrophic effects of the Israeli siege of Gaza:
The electricity cuts off 12 hours at a time. I have gone to sleep and woken up and the electricity would still not be back, and the water comes on when the electricity is off. I miss taking a shower! All of this does not make Van Damme better than me, but, unfortunately there is no gas in town.
Perhaps Zuaiter is not as fine an acrobat as Van Damme, but the message from these artists in Gaza, though delivered with humor, is far more urgent than Van Damme’s self-congratulatory platitudes for occupation profiteer Volvo.
Gaza is home to 1.7 million Palestinians, most of whom are refugees. Since 2007, Israel, with the collusion of Egypt, has imposed a blockade that prevents free movement in and out of Gaza, sharply limits imports of basic goods and all but bans exports. The siege has devastated Gaza’s healthcare system and many key medications are at zero stock.
After carrying out a military coup in July 2013, the Egyptian army destroyed almost all of the tunnels which had been used to transport fuel, food, construction supplies and other essential goods to alleviate the impact of the Israeli siege.
As a result, daily power cuts of 8 to 12 hours per day have lengthened to 18 hours for most people in Gaza. The power crisis has disrupted the already degraded water and sanitation systems, resulting in shortages of clean water and sewage-flooded streets.