Bethlehem (300)

Y.S on the Israeli side, Hannah Barag on the Palestinian side (reporting); Translation: Naomi gal

The first Friday of the Ramadan

The number of people passing on their way to prayer was much smaller than in the past. From 04:00 to 10: 30 mere 4,500 people passed. On the first Friday in Ramadan there are always fewer worshipers than later in the month, but this time the decrease in worshipers was obvious. The closureinfo-icon and cancellation of permits for prayers has taken its toll. The expense of travelling fare from Hebron area, only to discover that there is no way to get to prayers most certainly prevented many from arriving. The number of women who ventured out for prayers compared to the number of men was very prominent. Nothing looked like the holiday spirit we saw in "good" years, not many people smiled at us, and our greetings were ignored more than once.

The insistence on the "right" to pass was very strict. We saw many people who were forced to turn back, a difficult and sad sight.

The passage for women is quite steep and is rough on many of them.  Today was not particularly hot, but if the weather will change it seems that many women would have difficulty walking. Although there is a low railing that one can sit on, the filth around it doesn’t invite one to sit and relax.

The buses left one after another, quickly. The bus company reduced the number of vehicles depending on the number of people passing. The waiting time for family members who passed through a different route was this year shorter than in previous years, probably because of the declining number of worshipers.

There were many soldiers in the area, men and women, many of them were bored. Nobody was drinking, eating or smoking in front of the fasting people. We didn’t hear any raising of voices or disrespectful tons. There was palpable tension - certainly in light of the recent events.