Reporter's Notebook: A Matter of Life and Death

Jonathan Hunt
They strode into the coffee shop in full uniform; black combat fatigues, shaved heads and full beards. Oh, and AK47s, which they casually dropped by their seats as they ordered up the traditional Nargila (water pipes) to smoke as the game began.

Watching the World Cup in Gaza is a strange experience. For a start, alcohol is banned here and for a Brit brought up on the twin joys of beer and soccer that’s a hard thing to take.

Then there are these guys with guns. Now, as we all know, the English aren’t averse to a little fighting along with their football, but I never saw an AK when I used to stand, as a young lad (there were no seats in English stadia back then), watching Bristol City lose again and again. We were upset after every game, but even then we didn’t think shooting anyone was the answer. Signing a couple of decent players seemed a more reasonable response.

But I digress. We’re here in Gaza — me, FNC producer Ibrahim Hazboun and cameraman Mal James — and we’ve noticed something. Hamas and their rivals, Fatah, are engaged in an ongoing battle for power in Gaza. There are gunfights on the streets and heated debates among the politicians. But come kickoff time, the talking and the fighting stop, and everyone comes together to watch the game.

Perhaps it’s like the great manager of Liverpool Football Club, Bill Shankly, once said, "'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death…I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

Jonathan Hunt is a correspondent for FOX News Channel based in New York.

Jonathan Hunt currently serves as a New York-based chief correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). Hunt joined the network in 2002 as an international correspondent based in Los Angeles.