GAZA CITY: Palestinians have traditionally called on their relatives during Ramadan, especially brothers and fathers visiting their sisters and daughters, and married sons visiting their fathers and mothers.
In Ramadan, after iftar, Palestinian families spend their time together, eating Palestinian sweets, especially qatayef, and drinking juices such as hibiscus, carob and tamarind.
But this year’s Ramadan was different in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip to impose a curfew from sunset until dawn, which has prevented many from visiting their relatives.
Khalil Al-Asali, 67, expressed his anger at the conditions that the Gaza Strip is experiencing.
Al-Asali said that the curfew has “deprived us of visits. We spend most of the time inside the house.”
He added: “For decades, I used to visit my sisters, brothers and daughters every year after their marriage, starting on the second day of Ramadan.
“But this year I did not visit anyone, especially since they live in areas far from my place of residence, and I cannot go on foot.”
The Gaza Strip is witnessing the peak of the spread of the coronavirus during its second wave.
The Hamas-controlled authorities imposed a complete curfew on Friday and Saturday, and a curfew throughout the week from sunset until dawn.
The Gaza Strip has recorded the infection of more than 100,000 Palestinians since the outbreak of coronavirus in the enclave. The Ministry of Health has recorded the deaths of nearly 900 people.
Catching up with relatives is considered one of the customs associated with culture as well as Islam among Palestinians as visiting the so-called “Silat Alraham” is one of the positive customs encouraged by the religion.
Al-Asali said: “We visit our relatives periodically, but without specific dates. But on some occasions, such as Ramadan and Eid, we must visit women in their homes, offer them congratulations, and take gifts.”
He added: “This is part of our Islamic customs, in which women are happy to visit their father, brothers and uncles. I learned them from my father and I taught them to my sons.”
Women decorate their homes every Ramadan, whether with lights, special posters or lanterns, to celebrate the month and prepare to receive guests.
Palestinians may spend some of their time together gathering for Ramadan iftar, after which they spend their time staying up late, whether inside the house or in the open parks, especially in the spring and summer seasons.
Dareen Al-Sousi, 44, expressed her dissatisfaction with the current situation.
Al-Sousi said Ramadan this year “is not like any previous Ramadan I lived in my life.”
She added: “Every Ramadan, I prepare the house with Ramadan decorations to receive guests daily, whether from my father and mother, as well as my brothers who are married with their wives, uncles, and some of my husband’s relatives, but this year no one has come.”
She said: “My brothers came during the day to visit me for a short time, and during fasting. We could not talk for long because the family considers visiting the sisters an essential part that cannot be dispensed with even in the most difficult circumstances.”
Al-Sousi, like the rest of the Palestinians in Gaza, hopes that measures to tackle the coronavirus will be eased so that people can spend time with their relatives and make up for what they have missed since the beginning of the holy month.