Ramadan 2021 in Qalandiya & Nablus Gate
Photos: Tamar Fleishman, Anat Tueg
The Flames of Ramadan
On the morning of April 13, the first day of Ramadan, the Israeli police puts barriers along the wide stair-amphitheater leading to Damascus Gate in the Old City, and prohibits Palestinians from sitting there and festively receiving the Ramadan holy month as they have always done Young Palestinians protest at Damascus Gate and clash with the policeA Tik-Tok clip documents a Palestinian slapping a Jew on the Jerusalem light rail, and this violent event is imitated widelyIn response, a revengeful procession runs havoc in the streets of Jerusalem headed by the ‘Lehava’ [in Hebrew: flame] ultra-rightist groupThe procession is stopped near the Damascus Gate – where the police use horsemen, ‘Skunk’ trucks and stun grenades in a violent confrontation with Palestinian youthsOn May 7, the last Friday of Ramadan, large security forces enter Temple Mount; A stun grenade is hurled into a mosque. Many Palestinians are wounded and detained,
Nothing resembles the Ramadan Fridays of years past. This time it is different and not due to the Covid-19 pandemic. First sights can be confusing, as if no one is trying to get to Al Aqsa Mosque to pray. A view over the pedestrian bridge only reinforces this impression of strange emptiness. Against the background of all that has taken place there, both at the inspection posts and in Palestinian encounters with armed men and weapons, echoes the Lehava, the flame, ignited and burnt in Jerusalem last night.
Qalandiya Checkpoint, April 23, 2021, Tamar F.
The plaza in front of Damascus Gate is a maze of tangled blocking fences. At every corner on people’s way to prayer stand groups of armed security forces, inspecting the goings-on. The atmosphere is tense and less festive than it used to be. Only 10,000 permits have been allotted to West Bank residents, who must of course be vaccinated. But Israel provides vaccinations only to workers that it needs. So, there are hardly any families, women or children in festive clothes. Sad.
Old City of Jerusalem, April 23, 2021, Anat T, Natanya G
I arrived at the checkpoint at 6:30 a.m., thinking that on the last Ramadan Friday, I would see much more traffic than I did 2 weeks ago, as people make an early start in order to reserve a good spot at the Al Aqsa Mosque. What naivete! The entire area in front of the checkpoint entrance is ‘hermetically’ fenced. There is practically no one in the tracks leading to the buses.
Until 10am, when I finally left, 1,487 persons had crossed the checkpoint – that’s it…
Two years ago we counted 30,000 here at this hour. During my entire vigil, only 5 women had passed. I have been standing at checkpoints during Ramadan for 20 years now. There were years when the situation ‘improved’ – but freedom of worship has never existed. And here I stand now, and the situation only gets worse. Desperate, I sat down on a rock, leaned forward and hid my head between my knees…
Bethlehem Checkpoint, May 7, 2021, Hannah B
Nasser from Tawane Village tells us about last Saturday’s havoc: Noontime, Saturday, Ramadan fast. The flock was grazing near the water hole at Humra. Suddenly two settlers arrived and got into the water to bathe. A Palestinian shepherd approached them and told them that the water is used only for drinking. The two got out but soon, numerous settlers swarmed from the Havat Maon outpost, with vehicles and weapons. They shouted: “Get out of here! This is our land.” They beat up and threw stones at Palestinians and their Taayush (Israeli-Palestinian partnership) supporters. The clash grew worse as an army jeep arrived and the soldiers threw teargas grenades. Women and children passed out. In the meantime, a bus arrived, bearing 50 more settlers. The police arrived an hour and a half later and refused to fill out a complaint. Only upon the arrival of DCO officials who promised to take care of the matter did the clash subside…
... We came to A-Tawane because of the sirens and missiles flying in from the south. We heard from the Palestinians how every week the impunity and brutality of settlers from Havat Maon increase in their attempts to take over the village’s water holes and lands. There is an increase in the number of assaults, in the violence and frequency of their attacks.
South Hebron Hills, April 27& May 11, 2021, Michal T