An accountant, two lawyers, an agronomist and a Swiss humanitarian worker have formed Gaza’s first rock band, giving voice in English to the pain of war in the Palestinian territory
The unlikely group got together more than two years ago to create Osprey V, posting video clips online and projecting an aura of mystery by keeping their faces hidden.
Now, the band is ready to step into the limelight, with songs steeped in the emotions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In April, a month before an 11-day war between Gaza militants and Israel, they performed in “Live for Gaza”, an online concert to raise funds for musicians in the Palestinian Territories. Pro-Palestinian activist Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame also took part.
The band’s songwriter, Moamin El-Jaru, said Osprey V wants to convey both a universal message and one unique to Gaza, run by the Islamist Hamas militant group since 2007.
“I try to address situations or problems that face everybody in the world, but because I came from a place that has been cursed with so many wars and conflicts, I try to say that from my perspective, from my place from Gaza,” said El-Jaru, a lawyer by profession.
“We’ll scream our pain - can you hear the call?” implores one of the band’s songs, “Home”.
Lead singer Raji El-Jaru, an accountant and Moamin El-Jaru’s cousin, was the driving force behind the band’s formation, calling it the realisation of a childhood dream.
At a rehearsal, he told Reuters that Osprey sang in English “so everyone will understand and everyone will be touched by the message”, which he described as a “scream of anger against the injustice”.
And for Moamin El-Jaru, the song’s title “Home” has a poignant meaning for Palestinians displaced by war with Israel.
“When I sing about home, I am singing (about) home for Palestinians and everybody in a difficult situation that doesn’t get to feel (at) home,” he said.
Speaking from Switzerland, drummer Thomas Kocherhans said he joined the band three years ago while doing humanitarian work in Gaza.
“When I heard them for the first time, I was really shocked, but in the very good sense. I just never thought such quality music would exist in Gaza,” said Kocherhans, who had to leave Gaza earlier this year after his mission ended.
Despite a lack of interest in Western music in conservative Gaza, the band, named after a bird of prey, has high hopes for success.
“I would love to become the Palestinian Metallica or Pink Floyd, Roger Waters,” Raji El-Jaru said.