Photos of Gaza's Parkour Teens

"I don't know about the future, we live under siege. This is the only thing that makes us feel free."

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Aug 10 2015, 2:40pm

Fahed jumps between destroyed buildings in Gaza. Fares, having already completed the jump, runs ahead. All images by Loulou D'Azi, UNICEF

Since they were kids, Fares and Fahed have used parkour as a way to cope with their lives in Gaza. Now in their teens, the friends spend the long summers days running across bombed out buildings with a group of roughly 20 other young men. Of his hobby, Fares says: "I don't know about the future, we live under siege. This is the only thing that makes us feel free."

For the past few years, the group used a clubhouse to meet and train, but they were forced to abandon their meeting place during last year's 51 days of conflict with Israel. Without the clubhouse they now practice outdoors, favoring the crowded streets and the beach, where they can land on sand to break their falls.

Those in the group practice whenever they can, ideally for several hours a day. The heat means they often have to limit their training to the early mornings and evenings.

On VICE News: Gaza One Year On, Life Amid the Ruins

Despite the issues and the uncertainty in which they live, Fares says parkour is a welcome break from his responsibilities. His father died when he was two, and he lives with his siblings and mother. Without their father's income, they live on monthly benefits from the government and support from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). "Gaza is an end," Fares says. "We live here because there is no other choice. This is the life we have, and we just make it work."

You can support UNICEF's work for the children, youth, and women of Gaza here.

Fares and Fahed have built a global social media following among their peers and Parkour enthusiasts.

The boys perform backflips for walkers near the beach in the city of Beit Lahia, in the Gaza Strip.

Fahed considers a safe route down from the rubble of a destroyed building in the Shishya neighbourhood of Gaza.

Jumping off benches near the beach in the city of Beit Lahia, in the Gaza Strip.

Fares and Fahed inside a destroyed building in the Shishya neighborhood of Gaza.

Stretching before an afternoon of practicing by the beach, in the city of Beit Lahia, in the Gaza Strip. Fares recently broke his wrists while doing parkour and still has to be careful while performing some moves.

Fares holds a photograph of his father. He was killed during conflict when Fares was two years old. Fares, the youngest of four children, does not remember him.

Fahed performs a backflip off the edge of an elevated portion of a destroyed building onto a lower roof, in the city of Beit Lahia, in the Gaza Strip. The building was destroyed during the 2014 hostilities.

Fahed practicing with his Parkour team.

Fahed balances atop the hands of a fellow member of his Parkour team on the rooftop of a building destroyed during the 2014 hostilities, in the city of Beit Lahia, in the Gaza Strip. They are surrounded by five other members of their 23-person team, with Fares second from the right.

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