Broken hearts of Palestinian pilgrims rejoice during Hajj

Yusuf AbuTair, right, Salih Yassin thankful for warm reception. (AN photo/AFP)
Updated 31 August 2018
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Broken hearts of Palestinian pilgrims rejoice during Hajj

  • Yassin said he was happy he was able to come to the holy places to perform Hajj, and praised the government for its “unique services” that only the Saudi people can provide
  • God had tested his faith and that of his relatives through the deaths of three of his sons: Yassin

JEDDAH: Palestinian pilgrims who were part of the Guests of King Salman for Hajj and Umrah program thanked the Saudi authorities for the welcome they received, and shared stories of the heartbreaking suffering and loss they have endured over the years at home.

“The Gaza Strip is merely a 64-square-kilometer prison,” said Salih Yassin, 69. “The only way out is through the Egyptian crossing. However, this is our destiny and we will not surrender.”

He added that God had tested his faith and that of his relatives through the deaths of three of his sons.

“Before January 2009, the Israelis launched attacks on Gaza,” he said. “A week after that aggression, I was having breakfast with my wife at home. Our sons were at our neighbors’ house when we suddenly heard the sound of an explosion that shook the place."

“When my wife and I went out to see what it was, we saw our son, Abdurrahman, dead on the ground. His body was in pieces with little bits scattered everywhere,” said Yassin, with tears in his eyes.

A year later, on the second day of the Day of Sacrifice, the family’s faith was tested again when it lost two members in one day: Islam, 35, a father of three sons and two daughters, and 20-year-old Mohammed, who was unmarried.

“In the morning, the whole family was dressed up,” said Yassin. “Islam and Mohammed looked like grooms. A few minutes after the Maghrib prayer, I was informed that the car they were in had been blasted by an Israeli rocket in Gaza’s Al-Nafaq Street.”

Firm faith

He went to Al-Shifaa Hospital, where he was shocked to discover Mohammed was dead.

“When we got to the hospital, Islam was still breathing; it was only minutes before he breathed his last,” Yassin added. “Muslims have to accept all that Allah has preordained.”

He said he is sure that his three sons, who died “in the cause of Allah,” are with the Almighty.

“Allah has said: ‘And never think that those who have been killed in the cause of Allah are dead. They are alive, receiving provision from their Lord,’” he said. “We Muslims strongly believe in that ... and I am hopeful that Allah will reunite me with my sons in His paradise.”

Yassin said he was happy he was able to come to the holy places to perform Hajj, and praised the government for its “unique services” that only the Saudi people can provide.

“I was lucky this year to join the generous program by King Salman to perform my rituals,” he said. “The services are honestly great and I am sure you are the only ones who can provide such services. Neither America nor any other country in the world can provide such incomparable services.”

Yassin added that he previously performed Hajj in 1974, and was amazed to see that there had been such big improvements.

“The holy sites have completely changed,” he added. “The massive projects — including the tents of Mina, the Jamarat Bridge, the buildings, the cleanliness and the train — are all a source of pride. Allah has bestowed His blessings on the people of this country and chosen them to serve His guests.”

Yusuf AbuTair, 62, a father of five, said that his wife was killed by an Israeli soldier in 2016.

“She was standing at the door on her way into the house,” he said. “A Jewish soldier called her but she did not pay him any attention. He repeated his calls and when she did not respond, he immediately shot her dead.”

AbuTair, who was accompanied at Hajj by his 35-year-old son, Mohammed, said the services provided by the Saudis had exceeded all expectations.

“I would like to send my gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for all the services and assistance they are offering to us,” he added. “I would also like to thank all our Saudi brothers who we met here. They are doing their best to facilitate our Hajj.”


World celebrates Saudi National Day

Updated 23 September 2018
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World celebrates Saudi National Day

DUBAI: From Dubai to Beirut to New York and Washington, D.C., Saudi National Day was celebrated outside of the Kingdom on Sunday as a show of patriotism by Saudis abroad and as a sign of friendship by countries around the world.

The Dubai airline operated a special one-off A380 service, known as EK 813 and EK 814, on Sunday to the capital city of Riyadh, touching down at King Khalid International Airport at 3:30 p.m. The return flight was scheduled to depart at 6:50 p.m.

A YouTube video from Emirates also showed crew handing out scarves embroidered with the countries’ flags, as well as white roses, to passengers while boarding the A380 aircraft.

 

The Burj Khalifa was illuminated with the Saudi flag last night, while the Nasdaq Tower’s electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square was lit up with photos of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the flags of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

The images were posted by Nasdaq Dubai, the UAE-based operation of the New York equities exchange, on Twitter with the message: “Best wishes from #NasdaqDubai to #SaudiArabia on the occasion of the 88th National Day.”

 

 

In Lebanon, Pigeons’ Rock, also known as the Rock of Raouché, located in the sea of the western capital of Beirut, was lit in the colors of the Saudi flag. The rock, one of the most important Lebanese monuments, was lit during a ceremony attended by the charge d'affaires of Saudi Arabia, Waleed bin Abdullah Bukhari, along with a crowd of dignitaries, including the Mayor of Beirut.

In Washington, the Saudi embassy’s National Day bus toured around the capital on the weekend inviting people to its celebrations on Sunday in National Harbor, Maryland.

In the UAE’s capital, the General Command of Abu Dhabi Police decorated 88 of their cars - one for every year being celebrated – with the flags of Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the words “Together Forever.”

The UAE’s airlines got in on the game. Emirates operated a special one-off A380 service on the routes EK 813 and EK 814 on Sunday to the capital city of Riyadh, touching down at King Khalid International Airport at 3:30pm. Crew handed out scarves emblazoned with the countries’ flags, as well as white roses, to passengers boarding the aircraft.pic.twitter.com/U36yYpxE8T

Etihad said it was using the only Saudi A380 pilot in the world, Wesam Sameer Al Najjar, to fly its Year of Zayed plane to Jeddah with the UAE’s Captain Ahmed Almalood.

In the UAE, children at some schools dressed in green and sang the anthems of both countries, carrying both of their flags. In the evening, there was a Saudi National Day celebration at La Mer beachfront in Dubai that featured a supercar parade, traditional Saudi dancers and, of course, fireworks.