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Skateboarding has always been a place of creation, resistance and solidarity. Along with the worldwide skateboarding community, we would like to declare our solidarity with the Palestinian people and call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. 

Interview date: January 2024

Words: Letícia Nogueira

Photos: Norma Ibarra, Harry Gerrard


Recent events aren’t isolated incidents. The Palestinian people have faced a long and violent oppression since 1948, when the British government handed rule of the land to a newly formed Israeli state. As a result, millions of Palestinian people were massacred and displaced - they became refugees all around the world and were never allowed back in their indigenous homeland.

For those who stayed, it’s been 75 years of conflict, war, violence and an effort to colonise the Palestinian territory. 75 years of life under occupation, during which the Palestinian people have had their rights taken from them, in hopes to remove them from the land. Gaza has been besieged since 2005, described as a “manmade open air prison” by the UN and constantly bombed. Since October 2023, Israel’s military has been killing Palestinians at an average rate of 250 people a day, most of which are children.

There’s a lot we can do to help. We can keep learning, help raise awareness, boycott, donate, protest… and, if you ask me, we can keep on bringing skateboarding to the places that need it most.


Skateboarding often translates into solidarity. Skate aid projects bring skateboarding to underprivileged places and completely change the lives of the people who live there. So how can it empower people living in occupied territory? And, despite any walls the governments may build, can it bring them closer to the rest of the world?

We talked with Charlie Davis, who founded SkatePal back in 2013. This charity has since built skateparks, given classes and provided equipment in communities across the West Bank with limited access to education, sports and culture. They basically helped start a skate scene from scratch…

Hi Charlie! This is so dark to say, but I hope your friends are safe. What’s the situation in the West Bank right now?

In the West Bank, it’s not the same as the Gaza Strip, but things are quite unsafe. Sometimes, things are normal, but there’s this feeling of anxiety and nervousness about what’s going to happen. There have been lots of attacks in the West Bank and there’s an anticipation for what is going to come next. Everyone we know is safe, the people we work with in our programs, coaches, everyone is safe. It’s very in and out as to how much communication can get through, many organisations are having a hard time getting hold of their staff in Gaza, but, at the moment, everyone that we know is safe, which is good. Everyone is looking at the news and following it minute by minute to see what’s going on.

What’s it like for your team to live in the occupied territory?

Everything is restricted and controlled by Israel in the West Bank. They do have their own government, but everything is controlled and there’s also a border around it controlled by Israel. You also have checkpoints between towns, so the freedom of movement is very restricted. It’s never sure whether you can access land or not, whether you can travel there. There’s not much stability or security, and, as such, it’s kind of difficult to plan for the future, if the future looks so bleak and there’s no hope for having more freedom or self-determination. It’s quite difficult for people to be positive. 

A lot of the skaters that we’ve worked with over the years, when they get to an age and a chance to move and work or study abroad, they do that, because you can have a lot more freedom when you travel outside. A lot of them feel bad about leaving, and maybe guilty about not being there all the time, although it’s really healthy and good for them to get out and have some space away in their minds. Obviously, people would rather be in Palestine and have control over their lives.

What’s up with SkatePal, how are you running the charity at these times? Does skateboarding still play a role in times like this?

We’re not running any programs in the West Bank right now. I don’t think there’s anything happening in the Gaza Strip, other than people trying to stay alive. Some kids may be skating in the West Bank, but I think a lot of them aren’t skating, because they’re not in the right frame of mind. Also, some people aren’t going to be so happy with people having a good time in the current situation, although that kind of depends on the place. So, there’s not a lot happening in terms of skateboarding at the moment. 

Tell us about your main endeavours throughout these 10 years, how have you empowered local skaters and what do you think were the organisation’s major contributions to the area?

We’re really glad that we managed to make it through to 10 years. It’s been quite difficult. One of the main difficulties is getting in equipment all the time, it’s very hard to get equipment and boards there. We’re very happy to have built the skateparks that we have: three concrete ones and we just did a fourth, smaller one, last year, in a girl’s orphanage, in Al-Bireh / Ramallah. And we’re hoping to do a larger one in Al-Bireh / Ramallah ideally as soon as we can, although we’re not sure when that’s going to happen. You see people who skate in different towns becoming friends and building networks between different areas and individuals who wouldn’t have met before. I think the major thing this is adding is a community, which we’re kind of handing over and they can then grow on their own, which wouldn’t have existed before.

For the international side of things, it’s making Palestine a skate destination we can encourage people to go to visit. And it’s giving people there a chance to meet people from around the world and then have a chance to travel as well. Skaters often get to travel and do things because of skateboarding. So we’re glad to see that has been a useful sort of addition in how they’re able to move abroad and how they’re able to integrate when they get somewhere else. And one thing that we’re happy about in times like this is the on-going classes which we have had with international volunteers. About 500 international volunteers who come and go back and then tell everyone else about Palestine and spread the news about us and what’s going on. Volunteers often come back multiple times and make strong friendships with many of the kids and their families in Palestine, so it does feel like there’s a community there.

It takes a long time to build an actual skateboard scene. A long time before a physical shop is possible, before we find ways where buying and selling equipment is efficient and manageable, but these are challenges which are quite unique to working in Palestine. And despite it all, I think it’s great to see the solidarity between the community of people that we have, international and local. For me, that’s the main driving force behind continuing doing what we’re doing. 

What can we do to help right now?

You can read a lot and do your research, go to protests, speak to people, become aware of what’s going on. I think a lot of people feel powerless in this situation, like there’s not a lot they can do, but… just reaching out and making sure people are okay, if you have people over there. You could write your MP, or arrange a fundraising event. We have a pinned post on our Instagram with links to Medical Aid for Palestine and Palestine Red Crescent Society, which are two organisations that are doing a lot of the important work that’s happening in Gaza at the moment. So if people do want to help, one thing you can do is have a fundraiser to raise money for these organisations. We’re directing our support in that way too. Of course we also want to stay afloat as an organisation, and we will be focusing this year on trying to sell things in our shop in order to make sure we can pay all the staff locally, in Palestine and UK, until we can start again. 

We recommend you follow the local Palestinian skate pages: & @gaza_skate_team. We also recommend you follow these journalists: @wizard_bisan1, @hindkhoudary, @motaz_azaiza, @youmna_elsid, @wael_eldahdouh. 

Find the full article on Dolores Magazine #10, where we dive into the importance of skateboarding in the occupied territory, the flourishing Palestinian skate scene and the gender divide in a community where skateboarding is for everyone.

Let’s make an unequivocal declaration for solidarity and stand alongside the worldwide skate industry for peace, love and a free Palestine. We encourage you to sign this open letter by the Skateboarders for Palestine Alliance. 

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