Drinking the Sea at Gaza Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege

Amira Hass; Translated by Maxine Nunn




Trade Paperback

400 Pages



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In 1993, Hass became the first Israeli journalist to live in the Gaza Strip. In this book she reflects on what she witnessed in the Strip's gutted streets and destitute refugee camps. Equal parts wartime reportage and cultural inquiry, it details ordinary Palestinian life by giving voice to Gaza's doctors, housewives, taxi drivers, farmers, union activists, and Islamic leaders.

What does it mean to live amid incessant security sweeps, a daunting blockade, and the authoritarian regime of Arafat? In searching for the answers, Hass documents family and social life in Gaza with clarity and passion.


Praise for Drinking the Sea at Gaza

"Shatters stereotypes . . . Hass reveals the surprising contradictions of Palestinian society."—Susie Linfield, The Los Angeles Times

"Hass observes with something like despair, and writes with skill and passion."—Graham Usher, The Economist

"A wonderful book, persuasively argued."—Peter McKenna, The Washington Post Book World

"Not only has Amira Hass done the reporting that makes this book a moving and eloquent advocate of Palestinian humanity, but she is also a blunt and beautiful writer"—Amy Wilentz, Newsday

"A fascinating book . . . Frank, unsentimental."—Chicago Tribune (Editor's Choice)

"Unique and important. Hass, the 'enemy' and a woman to boot, dropped into a war zone armed with nothing but her compassion. She brought back this book—a powerful, compelling portrait of a tragedy."—Tom Segev, author of The Seventh Million

"Beautiful, passionate, and profoundly disturbing, Hass's book summons up the very essence of Gaza."—Amos Elon, author of Founder

"She clearly depicts the problems—from potholes to arbitrary Palestinian policing—endured by the enclave's one million people. The reportage covers the period before and after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. Hass profiles PLO returnees, Hamas rejectionists, shopkeepers, and workers and their travails in entering Israel. Through a deep understanding of Gazans' moods of militancy and passivity, Hass ably dissects and explicates the individuated elements of a generally difficult and evolving political problem."—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

"Hass stresses political, not social, freedoms, vividly documenting the daily degradation of ID checking, security sweeps, crushing border closures that cut off the Palestinians' economic lifeline of menial jobs in Israel, and rubber bullets, tear gas, or mass arrests by an overreacting occupation army."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Amira Hass; Translated by Maxine Nunn

  • Amira Hass was born in Jerusalem in 1957, the daughter of Yugoslavian-Jewish refugees. A journalist for the Hebrew daily Ha'aretz, she now covers Gaza and the West Bank. Hass has received the UPI's International Award and the Sokolow Prize, Israel's highest honor for journalists. For her work in Gaza, she was nominated for the Robert F. Kennedy Award.