Once again the Palestinians celebrated this year’s Eid Al-Fitr with an unwelcome guest.
Ramadan was not only a challenge to the Palestinians this year because of the thirty days of fasting, but because of the economic choke hold placed on them by the Israeli occupation. The holy month in the Muslim calendar has also suffered on a religious level, as many Palestinians were denied entry to mosques to pray.
Eid, the Arabic word meaning ‘festivity’ marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated with family. Gifts, often money, are traditionally given and new clothes always worn. This month however, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has not been about to pay salaries on time to its nearly 180,000 civil servants. The authority relies heavily on donations from neighbouring countries and organisations, but as a result of the economic downturn, and other political objectives, many of these donors have failed to meet their pledges for the year.
The Palestinian economy, which relies heavily on agriculture, has been starved by the Israeli occupation, which denies the country sufficient water to be sustainable. This, alongside the two week delay on public sector salaries has left the Palestinians struggling to put food on the table let alone celebrate the festival with gifts.
With over 60 children jailed in Beit Ommar alone this year, a full family enjoying the traditional feast together was a rare blessing. Mother’s tears were tears of agony, not joy, as they were denied sharing the holy day with their husbands, brothers and sons.