War blasted Gaza becomes perfect stage for sport of parkour

GAZA -- The physically demanding sport of parkour held its championships in Las Vegas last weekend.

But a top team of Palestinians was a no-show, stuck in its war-torn homeland.

CBS News spent time with these athletes, who get their joy through jumping.

A war blasted hulk of an apartment building in Gaza becomes a perfect stage for parkour.

It's an extreme sport blending gymnastics with agility training developed for a military obstacle course.

How many wars have these men seen? They all raise their hands to show three fingers.

So the men on this parkour team call themselves "Three-Run Gaza," for surviving three wars. And they cannot leave because Gaza is under a blockade.

"Parkour makes us feel free," said one of them men named Uday. "Nothing is holding you back."

barrypeterson.jpg

Parkour team from Palestine speaks with CBS News' Barry Petersen.

CBS News

Gaza's ruined and twisted cities an improbably perfect outlet for their exuberance.

The men don't see danger, but challenge. Leaps and twists from floor to debris-strewn floor -- ever higher -- to the rooftop.

From one rooftop, they can see the Israeli Watch Tower. What do they want them to think when they see them jumping and running?

"No matter how much they destroy or kill," Hamza, another one of the men, said of the Israelis, "I will still dance and have fun."

There is already enthusiasm from the next generation, eager for drills teaching how safety comes from practice.

parkour.jpg

A young boy does parkour in a war-torn building in Palestine.

CBS News

Mohammad is the team's coach and its philosopher.

"We love life and hope," he said. "And peace."

So what an outsider sees as death defying, the men of Three-Run Gaza see as life affirming all around us is sadness, they said. But in the air, in the moment, is the sheer joy of youth.