Jacobin - April 5, 2022
No matter where I am in the world, I have always celebrated Ramadan. I remember being surrounded by my Palestinian family in America and gorging myself on food before putting our meal to the side once we heard the calls to prayer at sunrise. Ramadan is so much more than the simple act of fasting, it’s a remembrance of our faith and our people.
Starting on Saturday, April 2, hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide embarked on Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, celebrated by consuming no food or water from sunrise to sunset. But for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, celebrating this highest of holidays can only be done through immense difficulties.
Surrounded by towering walls of barbed wire, the people of Gaza live every day enclosed in what many have referred to as “the world’s largest open-air prison.” Since the illegal Israeli blockade in June 2010, which prevents Gazans from leaving the city and prevents any international support from arriving there, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has grown severe. Half of Gaza’s 1.8 million people are children, all of whom are subjected to Israel’s imprisonment; 38 percent of Gazans live in poverty, 54 percent are food insecure; and 35 percent of Gaza’s farmland is totally or partially inaccessible due to the occupation. And Israel doesn’t let up for Ramadan.
During Ramadan in 2014, the occupation dropped two hundred eighty bombs on the Gazan population, primarily in residential areas, killing over five hundred children. The killings do not stop for prayer. Unlike in Israel, there is no Iron Dome, Israel’s all-weather air defense force (heavily paid for by US taxpayer dollars) to protect the people of Gaza. At a time when the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, and children’s laughs should have filled the streets at night, they were instead paraded by the sounds of death.
Since then, Israel has steadily cracked down on all forms of Palestinian Muslim worship. Last year, Israel increased its surveillance of Palestinians by requiring soldiers to “tag” Palestinians to track and monitor them. This policy has heightened the use of military checkpoints by stationing more soldiers at them and preventing Palestinians’ entry for no reason, and prevented Palestinians from accessing the Al-Aqsa Mosque — the third-holiest site in Islam — during Ramadan. ...
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