GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Thousands of kites filled the sky over Gaza on Thursday as children gathered to break their own Guinness World Record in an event organised by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
More than 7,200 children flew colorful kites at a sprawling sandy beach, unofficially doubling the previous record, according to officials from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
The attempt comes one week after the same number of Gaza children bounced basketballs simultaneously for five minutes, unofficially breaking another Guinness record and drawing international attention to the impoverished Hamas-run enclave.
"Surely two world records in a week would be another world record," UNRWA's Gaza director John Ging said.
"Children here must have a sense of normality, despite the abnormality they face in their daily lives. Today?s achievement has lifted the spirits of the entire population here in Gaza," he added.
The previous record was set last summer when 3,710 Gaza children flew kites in a similar event organised by UNRWA.
UN officials said Guinness did not send an adjudicator because of general government travel warnings on Gaza and that the new record still has to be confirmed by the organisation.
Many of the children in the Gaza Strip still bear psychological scars from Israel's devastating January 2009 offensive, in which some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including more than 300 children.
Amsiyat Awaja's house was destroyed during the war and her brother Ibrahim was killed, but on Thursday the 13-year-old had a smile on her face as she watched her kite swoop and dive high above the crashing waves.
"We still want to live and we still want to be joyful," she said.
Rima Zayed, 14, said the event helped her forget the "tough days" of the war, when her family was homeless for several months. "At least today we can enjoy our freedom," she said.
UNRWA provides food aid and runs schools and clinics for Gaza's one million registered refugees, some two-thirds of the population. It also operates summer camps that cater to some 250,000 children across the territory.
The 4.7 million UN-registered refugees scattered across the Palestinian territories and neighbouring countries include those who fled from what is now Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and their descendants.
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