Occupied Ramadan: Restrictions and concessions leave Palestinians conflicted
Blessed Ramadan is by all accounts already difficult enough. Dawn-to-dusk fasting in summer heat, work stress and social obligations can make for a trying time. But with the added complexities of navigating Israeli checkpoints in the Occupied Territories and Jerusalem, it’s even harder for Palestinians living under occupation.
Israel's Ramadan Karim!
Israel does however apply some special concessions for the holy month. Ordinarily, Palestinians are not allowed to enter Israel without a special permit. During Ramadan, the occupying power significantly eases restrictions to allow the fasting faithful to visit contested Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites , at one of the holiest times for Muslims. Israel has already issued 10,000 permits for Palestinians and counting.
In full, the Jewish state is giving the green light to women of all ages and men over 40 to enter for Friday prayers and to celebrate Laylat Al-Qadr at Al-Aqsa. Men between 35-40 require a special permit, while men under 35 are turned down point blank.
For the festival of Eid el-Fitr on the heels of the fasting month, the IDF are to allow Palestinian women of all ages as well as men over the age of 40 to enter Israel for Friday prayers without a permit. As for senior citizens, Palestinians over the age of 65 are kosher, according to the IDF, and can enter free of restrictions.
Soldiers got soul!
The Israeli military is playing its part too in keeping the holy month spirit, and the peace. IDF soldiers in the West Bank have been asked to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public, particularly at the security crossings, during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Soldiers have been urged to “demonstrate a high level of respect and understanding,” according to the IDF.
Still, Palestinians are conflicted by the token good will shown them by the Jewish state. They are left torn between celebrating the seasonal concessions granted them, and commiserating for the West Bank shops that will lose out in business to stores in Israel.
What's more, as this panel of Palestinian photos shows, navigating Israeli security barriers is a difficult process at the best of times and more so when feeling the pinch of hunger.