Itâ€™s taken a long time and demanded patience and perseverance. But slowly, and in spite of all the obstacles, Gazaâ€™s Watar Band is gaining international recognition.
The soft rock pop group recently completed a tour of France, organized by the French Institute of Jerusalem, a branch of Franceâ€™s official international cultural center, marking their second such trip in a four-year period that also saw them win a prestigious arts award and record their first album.
â€śOur friendship and ambition helped us face all difficulties,â€ť said Khamis Abushaban, 26, the bandâ€™s bassist.
Abushaban is one of four friends who founded the now seven-strong band in 2008. That year also witnessed the devastation of the 2008-2009 Israeli attack that left more than 1,400 people dead in Gaza.
The horror left an indelible mark.
â€śIn 2009, just after the 2008-2009 aggression, we had our first concert,â€ť said Abushaban.
â€śWe performed in the rubble of the Palestine Red Crescent Society building, which was destroyed during the assault. The building had been home to the only music school in Gaza.â€ť
The concert was hugely symbolic for the band, and repeated Israeli aggressions have all left their mark on its members.
During Israelâ€™s 51 days of bombing in the summer of 2014, the band recorded and released the track â€śWe Teach Life, Sir.â€ť
â€śIn one of the short ceasefires, we gathered in the house of a friend who had a home studio and recorded our song. The lyrics are written by Rafeef Ziadah [a Palestinian spoken word artist and activist], and inspired us to compose the music around it.â€ť
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