Gaza Ramadan

‘Eid in Gaza, in Canada

Having spent many ‘Eid celebrations in the Gaza Strip, in the years since late 2008, I thought it interesting to compare ‘Eid al-Adha (and the two ‘Eid holidays in general) in Gaza to ‘Eid in Canada.

Some rather obvious observations jump out at anyone who has a sense of the collective suffering in the Gaza Strip of the last many decades, but particularly since tightened closures after Hamas’ election in 2006. Amira Hass, who writes for Ha’aretz, would point out that the closures began at least in the ’90s and steadily worsened, even though Hamas was not then in power…That the closures were, as they are now, a form of collective punishment against Palestinians, for no other reason than this is what Zionists do (my paraphrasing).

The Gaza Strip has been rendered desperately poor by the continued closed borders and ban on exports (since at least 2007), and by the Zionist bombings of Palestinian factories and businesses, and the restrictions on imports—so severe between the years of 2007-2010 that all but up to 40 items were forbidden entry into the Strip, banned goods including innocuous things like diapers, baby formula, seeds, fertilizers, medicines, A4 paper, shoes, toys…Calculations were made of the base number of calories average Palestinians in Gaza needed to exist—not to thrive or be nourished, simply to not starve. For the last many years, and including today, roughly 80% of the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza depend on food aid to survive. These food handouts are scarcely adequate, comprising mainly flour, sugar, oil and if lucky dried chickpeas. Fruits, vegetables, fish or meat are not included. CONTINUE READING

Gaza Ramadan a bust under tunnel destruction and impending futile “peace” talks

[photo: Emad Badwan]

So, it’s Ramadan, the most adored and revered time of year for Muslims, and Muslims throughout Palestine are suffering, as are Christians and Palestinian Jews (who call themselves such, as they were living in Palestine long before the Zionists came), but since it is Ramadan, Muslims fasting and many trying to access the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque are denied, life is a little bit more difficult for Muslims in particular right now.

Since I’m most recently familiar with the layers of misery imposed upon the 1.7 million Palestinians of Gaza, still locked-down under an Israeli-imposed, worldwide-endorsed siege (endorsed by world leaders, of course, not the people), it is Gaza I am constantly thinking about.

I know well, first-hand, the effects of the siege and constant, unpredictable Israeli assaults of all forms: shootings on and abductions of Palestinian fishers, the same for Palestinian farmers and any other Palestinian found “remotely” near the border with Israel (remotely, being from a few hundred metres to over a kilometre…a broad definition indeed).

And the effects of fuel and cooking gas shortages:

–longer and daily power outages during these hottest days of the year. Muslims are abstaining from water for roughly 16 hours a day. Air conditioning is but a dream, as is constant power to run even a simple fan. The basic homes that Palestinians are able to build—no frills for the vast majority—are cement heat-traps, suffocating day and night. A true test of their faith, these conditions imposed on thirsty, hot fasting Palestinians. But even aside from that, the power outages mean sewage cannot even be treated, not even that minimal amount that in “normal” times (these are normal times!) is treated. So the normal amount of 90 million litres of sewage pumped daily into the sea must certainly be greater.

And the sad reality of Palestinians flocking to the sea, the one place they might cool down, and swimming in sewage-polluted waters because that is their only option. And the sewage infiltrating into Gaza’s destroyed aquifer.

The misery is just so endless, and so human-made…well Zionist-made, at least. CONTINUE READING

‘Eid in Gaza

Sunday, the first day of ‘Eid following a month of Ramadan fasting, the older sons of the house go out visiting their married sisters, and the wives of the house stay at home, offering mahmoul (date-stuffed round or crescent shaped cookies), chocolates, and bitter Arabic coffee (a lighter brown and more bitter coffee than the everyday strong qahua [cardamom-infused Arabic coffee] served in cafes) to their siblings and other guests.

Children are coerced into their best—ideally new—clothes, their hair groomed perfectly. Within an hour, the younger children regain their usual play-mussed appearances as they play in the streets (where else to play?). If lucky, they collect a sparse amount of shekels from their older relatives and siblings for ‘Eid, to spend on toys or clothes or treats.

I visit with the women in our house, stopping by each family’s apartment to wish them a happy ‘Eid, passing along the familiar greetings of “kul saena w inti taibe, wa sahtek tamam” (which roughly translates to happy new year, may your health remain good). continue reading

festive psychological torture in Gaza

Sun Aug. 19

1:05 pm

I’ve been back in Gaza 4 days now and now hear the familiar roar of a Zionist warplane over Deir al Balah where I live. I was wondering where they were, knew they hadn’t gone away. Now, with the passing war-roar, things seem sickeningly normal here. continue reading

Gaza Ramadan, Hard, Meaningful

Qateyefs (pancakes) being prepare for the evening feast. 

(By Eva Bartlett, published at New Internationalist)
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began six days ago here in Gaza, and this year it’s scorching (it’s based on the lunar cycle, so varies yearly). I’ve dabbled in Ramadan before, but have never had the privilege of spending it with a family for more than one iftar (the celebratory evening ‘breakfast’). post continues

A zoo without animals

Sep 12, 2010 (IPS)  By Eva Bartlett– “We haven’t had a single visit yet through Ramadan, what kind of zoo doesn’t get visitors during holidays?” asks Mahmoud Barghoud, 22, co-creator of the Marha zoo.

The Marha Land zoo and children’s park lies halfway between Gaza and Deir al-Balah on the main north-south highway running Gaza’s length, waiting for customers to visit. In the peak of summer, the park gets a handful of visitors on a good day. During the month of Ramadan and since, there have been none. post continues

hard days in Ramadan: no power, no water, soaring heats

*photo by Emad Badwan

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip, Aug 22, 2010 (IPS)  By Eva Bartlett– “It’s been days without electricity and water. We can’t do anything, and it’s unbearably hot now.” Abu Fouad, 83, speaks of the power cuts plaguing all of the Gaza Strip.

While Palestinians in Gaza have grown accustomed to power outages, a combined result of the destroyed power plant, bombed by Israeli in 2006, and the siege imposed by Israel and the international community, the blackouts have increased in frequency and duration. post continues

daily life and celebration merge: last day of Eid


The third day of Eid, kids are still in their new clothes, playing in the streets on makeshift swings or simplified, hand-powered fair-ground rides.

But there are also the extremely poor who aren’t taking the day off, instead profiting from holiday waste to scour the trash bins for recyclables. One such donkey and cart is slugging uphill as I walk behind. It stops and the two youths driving it hop off to poke through the bin, moving on to the next bin a couple hundred metres on.


As I pass, we smile. Despite what might seem a job and lifestyle to blush from, the youths say the day is going well when I ask about their work. post continues

Israeli massacre and siege overshadow all:Eid day 2


“I had a chicken farm with 3,000 chickens. On the 300 dunams [1 dunam is 1000 square metres] of land I share with neighbours I had 300 olive trees, 130 dates, 200 lemons, 150 papayas, 500 guavas, 200 clementines. I had 50 dunams of wheat and another 50 of peas.

This was all destroyed, all but about 400 chickens. Destroyed before Israel even waged it’s 23 day massacre of Gaza in winter 2008/2009. The last of the chickens died in that attack.

My radish crops, which I’d planted where trees once stood, I had to plow under because they were poisoned by the phosphorous which rained down here.”

Down in Al Faraheen, the farming village east of Khan Younis, a visiting delegation wants to see life in the ‘buffer zone‘. post continues

laughter and tragedy: Eid day 1

The streets are completely renewed with energy, filled with life and people no longer fasting. The sense of vitality, exuberance, is strangely similar to that of immediately post-massacre.

[That day, 19 January, the streets blossomed with throngs of people who’d been cooped up in homes, feeling death was imminent. The realization that the mass-Israeli-bombing (but not all!) had stopped was enough to send people onto the streets: to look, to find friends, to appraise the devastation of the massacre and see the new streetscape.

While my colleagues and I were mobile –going from Red Crescent shifts in Jabaliya to Ramattan news in Gaza to our seaside apartment –and thus saw and heard most of the bombing or the immediate aftermath, many Palestinians had kept holed up in their homes, feeling whereas no where was safe, they might as well live and die together, as so many did.]

On the first of three days of Eid, children are the most prominent sight, glittering and colourful in flash new clothes (even though in the end they are the poor-quality items that come through the tunnels… they are new, at least). post continues