Video: The archers of Gaza

Ahmad al-Zahhar discovered the sport of archery through a Turkish television series.

His interest was piqued, but he was unable to acquire the necessary equipment in Gaza. Israeli authorities prohibit the entry of professional archery bows into the Gaza Strip.

“That’s what inspired me to make these bows,” he told The Electronic Intifada.

“We started by building it from a composite Arab bow, which resembles the professional archery bow.”

However, as al-Zahhar and his small group of archers gained support, he needed an Olympic-regulated bow to compete.

“Getting raw materials was difficult. We couldn’t import a professional bow to copy it because of Israel’s siege,” he said. Aside from that, the original bow is extremely expensive.

Israel bans so-called “dual-use” items from Gaza on the pretext that they may have military purposes.

“Materials are prohibited, it can only be smuggled,” Osama al-Kaoud, one of al-Zahhar’s trainees, told The Electronic Intifada.

“Gaza, for example, is not allowed to import carbon fiber” – a necessary material to make official bows.

Despite their limited resources, the team was able to compete in international competitions representing Palestine.

“We want to raise the Palestinian flag in arenas around the world,” al-Zahhar told The Electronic Intifada.

“A little discipline and effort go a long way in this sport so we can offer an achievement to our people.”

Video by Mohammed Asad.