Sea mailSea mail

Gaza fisherman catches message in a bottle from Greece

Jihad al-Soltan finds bottle in his net six weeks after a British couple set it afloat into the Mediterranean Sea

Illustrative: Message inside of a bottle sent by Palestinian children in Gaza as part of UNRWA campaign. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Illustrative: Message inside of a bottle sent by Palestinian children in Gaza as part of UNRWA campaign. (Screen capture/YouTube)

“Hello! Thank you for picking up this bottle! We are currently on holiday in Rhodes and would love to know how far this bottle got – even if it’s just the next beach!”

This was the note pulled from inside a glass jar that floated 500 miles from the Greek island into the fishing net of an angler in Gaza last week, NPR reported Saturday.

Knowing his girlfriend Bethany Wright, 22, had always wanted to send a message in a bottle, Zac Marriner, 25, surprised her with the jar on the last day of their Greek island vacation, the report said.

The two wrote a letter on parchment paper, rolled it up and stuffed it inside along with a few flowers.

That was July 4.

Exactly six weeks later, Jihad al-Soltan spotted the jar floating toward the seaside enclave of Gaza and pulled it into his boat.

The 54-year-old father of seven broke the jar open and brought the letter to his son-in-law Wael al-Soltan, an English teacher who could read what was inside.

Jihad had Wael compose a short response to the email address that the British couple had left on the letter, NPR said.

The young English teacher then showed the water-damaged parchment to his friend, Mahmoud, who excitedly wrote a more detailed response to Marriner and Wright.

“Hi from palestine gaza hi for you zak and beth my friend find ur botlle the best thing in this life love and feel happy when find people love each other like Zak and Beth wish you all the best,” he wrote.

Wael had attempted such a correspondence himself three years ago. Then, he jotted down in Arabic a single phrase — “end the siege” — on a piece of paper, which he put out to sea, referring to the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Hamas-controlled strip.

Established after the terror group took over Gaza in 2007, Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent arms from reaching Hamas, which is sworn to its destruction.


“It was certainly incredible that our bottle was found at all, let alone on a beach in Gaza,” Wright wrote in an email to NPR. “So tragic the situation there means people are so cut off, but the bottle reaching there illustrates greatly how we are just all one world, all connected by one ocean and loved by one God.”

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