A report out of Gaza this week notes an alarming rise in the number of Palestinians seeking bee-sting therapy to relieve symptoms of paralytic muscular atrophy, rheumatism and multiple sclerosis.
Unable to get to hospitals in Egypt, and with local medical facilities inadequately supplied due to the Israeli blockades, Gazan patients are increasingly turning to apitherapists to relieve crippling chronic pain. A three-course series of 4-6 stings each costs about $2.50.
To clarify the point, Palestinians visit their doctor on a regular basis and willingly submit to a bee-sting assault, and this is to relieve the pain of living in Gaza.
Apitherapy is perceived with skepticism in most medical circles but has been known for centuries to relieve certain muscle and joint pain. The theory of the healing power of honey-bee venom is that it is known to contain concentrated amounts of the peptide (amino-acid compound) Melittin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Of course, when a honey bee stings, the creature dies, which means less honey for the halawiyat--yummy Arabic baklava--and therefore less pleasure for the kids.
And that's life in Gaza.
In somewhat related news, the Israeli government has agreed to send 7,500 calves to Gaza in the coming days as a humanitarian gesture for the Eid al-Adha, the festival in which Muslims commemorate Ibrahim's near sacrifice of his son Ismail by sacrificing a lamb.
Gazans may return the favour by sending cheeseburgers to Israel for Hanukkah.