Azzun - Ramadan is approaching but also the despair is deep

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Rachel Afeq Translator: Charles K.

This urban village is attempting to remake itself: upgrading roads, laying sidewalks, painting red and white markings on curbs and even erecting traffic signs.

It happened a few months ago.  Today I saw sanitation workers’ wheelbarrows filled with garbage.  It looks as though they’re trying to maintain a certain level of optimism.

As I drove I entered a lane which turned out to be blocked by a truck that filled its entire width – it felt like the container ship in the Suez Canal.  Ashraf, the owner of the small supermarket, gestured to me – go back and turn into the next lane.  I told him there’s a “no entry” sign.  He indicated there are no police.  I did, and there weren’t.  The shops also open when the police leave.  The coronavirus is now blooming along with spring in the area villages, but the lockdown is currently in effect only on weekends to provide a semblance of normality…if you get what I mean.

You can sense Ramadan approaching, with new shops opening.  A statue of a shahid has been erected in the central square.  An additional plaza is being renovated.

 בעזון, בככר המרכזית בנו פסל שהיד.

Z’s family has moved to a new apartment – congratulations – but the shop has remained in their previous location.  Until they find a new spot they’ll use all the space that’s become available there.  You’re invited to shop at the second-hand store in Azzun, or to bring them merchandise – everything will be accepted gladly.  They prefer kitchen items, toys, games and electrical goods, in preparation for Ramadan shopping – the holiday begins April 12.

Despite the virus’ spread and reports of vaccine purchases, here on the ground and in the villages, you don’t feel any difference.  The Palestinian leadership has been vaccinated, as well as workers employed in Israel and in the settlements.  But everyone else feels cheated and completely ignored.  The papers also carry reports of large sums of money the US administration which succeeded Trump will be transferring, but every Palestinian can tell you whose pockets they’ll wind up in.  “So rise up!”  They laughed at me.  The prisons await us…there’s no democracy, they sigh…  The temptation is to write something very harsh, something earthshaking:  the despair is so deep, the distrust of their leadership so much greater than the frustration and fear created by Israeli military rule.  And the collaboration in one form or another between them both creates a situation that eliminates any hope or optimism for someone who has to live in it.

It’s almost Ramadan.