Deir Sharaf, Sun 23.8.09, Afternoon
Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, began yesterday, the first time Ramadan has fallen in August in 33 years. Since fasting goes on from sunrise to sundown, it's really tough going during these long, hot days of summer. President Barack Obama sent Ramadan greetings to the world's Muslims "These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings." The Israeli media made short shrift of Ramadan: no mention in today's Haaretz (English edition) at all. On the other hand, Civil Administration representatives, we are told, briefed forces regarding holiday times and traditions and distributed educational pamphlets on the topic. IDF soldiers, we were further told, have been given orders to show special consideration for the residents of the Judea and Samaria region and, wherever possible to refrain from eating and drinking in public, especially at the various crossings so as to demonstrate a high level of respect and understanding.
15:00 Deir Sharaf
It's very quiet, and an empty taxi stops to offer us a ride. Most unusual as normally taxis here are filled to the brim. Today, it's Ramadan, and people have, we assume, already shopped and are preserving their energy by staying at home. The soldiers on duty have no idea about what is allowed, what is not allowed at this checkpoint. True, no Israeli cars are allowed, they tell us. But Palestinian Israelis in taxis, we suppose, as do the soldiers, that's another story....As for Saturdays, they've no idea. Cars, we note are not checked on either side, but as we leave, we see a small pickup van being stopped, trying to make its way towards Nablus.
It should be noted that all over the OPT today, are posters, written in Hebrew, in a garish fluorescent green, announcing, not some daring new political movement, but a common and garden promotion for pizza which can be delivered all over "Samaria." We find this a particularly sensitive piece of advertising for the month of Ramadan. Only the settlers could have dreamed up such a campaign at such a time!