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Israel and the occupied / autonomous territories : Carpentry skills put to good use in Gaza prison

31-10-2002 News Release 02/44

In a prison workshop in Gaza, the sound of metal tapping on wood dies away as five detainees look up from their work and put aside their tools to greet three ICRC visitors.

The men, all professional carpenters, belong to a group that is involved in a micro-project to make board games. This activity, which started up last week in Gaza's main prison, stems from an ICRC initiative to provide inmates who have artisan skills with the chance to use them while in detention. 

The carpentry project, and an earlier tailoring project, are part of the ICRC's ongoing work with detainees held by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. Both activities were organized in cooperation with the prison administration. In addition to the five carpenters, two or three apprentices have been assigned to the project, which involves the production of 60 board games, and will thus receive training while in prison. The games will eventually be distributed to various places of detention and benefit around 400 inmates.

The projects have a threefold aim: to make use of detainees'skills in creative ways, to provide practical training for a number of inmates and to alleviate boredom for hundreds of others by supplying them with games to pass the time.

For the carpenter-detainees, the project has come as a welcome change. " I have a long sentence, " said one of them, " and I'm happy to be doing something that helps to break the routine. "