Palestinians forced to delay the start of Ramadan as Israel celebrates 49 years of ruling Jerusalem

Israel/Palestine
on 10 Comments

Blue and white banners filled Jerusalem yesterday to mark 49 years of Israeli rule in the city. Crowds of settler youth chanted the slogan “the Jewish nation lives” as they marched under the ramparts of Damascus Gate. Many wore stickers supporting rabbi Meir Kahane, a former Knesset member kicked out of the government after calling for violence against Arabs, while others pasted their clothes with decals backing a greater Israel, a Jewish-nationalist movement that seeks to annex the occupied Palestinian territory. Meanwhile, Palestinians were barred from sections of the city and postponed the start of their own festivities for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to avoid conflicts with the settlers.

Typically the parade is accompanied by clashes between Palestinians and police over barricades erected to cordon off a path for the paraders as they weave through Palestinian neighborhoods. The bustling Israeli festivities set against empty Palestinian streets where residents are prevented from roaming freely is always a jarring feature of the event.

“The soldiers and the police came and said by 5 o’clock you should be inside and everyone should close their stores,” said a Palestinian boutique owner, “I told my neighbors it’s better for us. The police don’t provide security for us.” 

“The stores are closed, for anyone, even for business with tourists,” said Mohammed who runs a souvenir stall in the Old City and requested his last name not be published.

“It is difficult today, the streets are empty,” said another store owner, Ezz Rajabi, pointing to a keyhole on the front gate of his shop. “They will break the lock,” he said, explaining in years past the paraders graffitied the outside of his store with Jewish stars, and stuffed glue into his locks.

Annually Jerusalem Day is observed on the Jewish calendar. Ramadan follows the lunar phases. The dates of both holidays fluctuate each year, with yesterday’s timing coinciding on the same evening for a first.

In advance of yesterday’s march, the Israeli human rights group Ir Amim filed a petition to prevent national events inside of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The rights organization hoped to avoid confrontations by re-routing the procession.

Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat opposed altering the path. Sunday morning he told Army Radio, “Jerusalem is celebrating, this is an appropriate march,” reported the Jerusalem Post.

Israeli police then announced a compromise: Jewish celebrators would vacate the Palestinian hubs of the Damascus Gate area and the Muslim Quarter by 6:30pm, in order to allow for Muslims greeting the start of Ramadan.

When the Sunday evening expiration time hit, Israeli marchers continued to pour into the Old City under lanterns displayed for the incoming Ramadan holiday.

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

(Photo: Allison Deger)

Jday.01

The parade was sponsored by an Israeli non-governmental organization that received more than half of its funding from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a further grant from a settler groups, according to an investigation by the Israeli daily Haaretz.

“Jerusalem Day is about the freedom of Jerusalem from the war in 1967. We have to celebrate that we can be in the holy city, we can pray at the kotel [Western Wall],” said parader Yisahai, 19, who requested his last name not be published.

“We sing together and we are all together in one group, no difference between one person and another. We celebrate the togetherness,” Yishai said.

For participants, mostly contingents of youth in matching shirts with the name of religious schools printed on the backs, the holiday is seen as a blend of religion and patriotism. Many remember 1967 war in which Israel captured East Jerusalem as the moment in which Jews regained prayer access to the Western Wall, located in the Old City. From 1948 to 1967 Israeli worshippers were prohibited from reaching the sacred site by the former local authorities, the Jordanian government.

For Palestinians Jerusalem Day signifies the beginning of Israeli’s occupation of the eastern part of the city, along with the West Bank and Gaza. The 350,000 East Jerusalem Palestinian inhabitants are not citizens of any country, and hold a resident card. They can vote in Israeli local elections and pay municipal taxes, but cannot cast ballots in national elections.

Across town at a state ceremony in a Jerusalem park, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed Jerusalem the unified capital. He said the city would not be divided through a summit in Paris where world leaders met on Friday to kick-start a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with Israel not invited. The French initiative Netanyahu said, would “only distance peace,” reported the Times of Israel.

“One of the names of Jerusalem is the City of Peace. The State of Israel wants peace. I want peace and I would like to renew the peace process in order to achieve [this],” he said, again from the Times of Israel.

Yet in nearly every direction of the celebrations, as Israelis rejoiced in their city of peace, Palestinians were sealed behind police dividers.

“Damascus Gate is closed,” shouted an officer to a group of Palestinians in a kettle behind a metal fence erected in the afternoon.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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10 Responses

  1. John O
    June 6, 2016, 6:15 pm

    Just like Northern Ireland in the bad old days. Cubed.

  2. Kate
    June 6, 2016, 11:50 pm

    Outraged by the idea of Muslims having to delay the starting celebrations for Ramadan. Can you imagine Christians being made to delay Christmas Eve celebrations, carol services, etc.?

    • Cazador
      June 7, 2016, 8:39 am

      Why should zionists care about their Palestinian neighbours? From 1948 on, the zionist history in Palestine has given us plenty of occasions and facts to show the world that there’s only one consideration for zionists, theirs, and the means to push their agenda are plenty, and their military, diplomatic and economical support are even more numerous…

    • Mooser
      June 7, 2016, 11:19 am

      “Can you imagine Christians being made to delay Christmas Eve celebrations, carol services, etc.?”

      Absolutely not! I can’t even conceive of the most severe winter weather delaying Santa’s flight by so much as an hour!

  3. Boris
    June 7, 2016, 8:39 am

    One small clarification – Palestinians in East Jerusalem were offered Israeli citizenship, but they were told by PLO to refuse it. So, they don’t have it.

    • eljay
      June 7, 2016, 9:10 am

      || Boris: One small clarification – Palestinians in East Jerusalem were offered Israeli citizenship, but they were told by PLO to refuse it. So, they don’t have it. ||

      They were right to refuse it. Accepting Israeli citizenship would have:
      – made them second-class citizens in a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”; and
      – legitimized Israel’s illegal and immoral occupation and colonization of non-Israeli territory (land outside of its / Partition borders).

    • Cazador
      June 7, 2016, 9:40 am

      There are Palestinians with Isreaeli citizenship, and we all know the double standard, especially legal, applied to Israeli Palestinians by the successive zionist governments in Israel, from 1948 on.

    • amigo
      June 7, 2016, 9:46 am

      “One small clarification – Palestinians in East Jerusalem were offered Israeli citizenship, but they were told by PLO to refuse it. So, they don’t have it.” Boris

      Boris , Israel illegally annexed , (stole) the whole of Jerusalem so who are they to offer citizenship of an illegal state to those whose land they stole.

      Note, that annexation is still not legal .

      Hope that clarifies this for you.

      • Cazador
        June 7, 2016, 12:57 pm

        Jerusalem was not part of the League of Nations/UN Partition Plan, elaborated and put in force without consulting the Palestinians. Some 200,000 Palestinian Jews received 53% of the whole of Palestine territory, while the nearly 2,000,000 Palestinians were awarded the remaining 47%, a 47% divided in three interlinked territories, and the third one, the one bordering Lebanon, was taken from the Palestinians in the first year after the official creation of Israel. As for the status of Jerusalem it was to be an international city.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Partition_Plan_for_Palestine

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_city

    • Mikhael
      June 8, 2016, 5:06 pm

      Boris June 7, 2016, 8:39 am

      One small clarification – Palestinians in East Jerusalem were offered Israeli citizenship, but they were told by PLO to refuse it. So, they don’t have it.

      Actually, they still have the option to apply for it and in recent years more East Jerusalem Arabs who were formerly Jordanian citizens have been taking the step to apply for and acquire Israeli citizenship, for a variety of motives. Regardless of whether they take Israeli citizneship or not, the Arab residents of East Jerusalem whose families came under Israel rule in 1967 are permanent residents of Israel and thus are entitled to live and work anywhere within Israel. As long as they are non-citizens, they cannot vote in Knesset elections but they can vote and run for office in municipal elections. If they take Israeli citizenship, as many have, they are eligible to vote in Knesset elections too, like any other Israeli citizen

      http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.669643.

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