Palestinians reminisce about Ramadan before the Nakba

A Palestinian vendor displays a variety of pickles in front of his cafeteria with name in Arabic that reads ‘food crime,’ in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)
A Palestinian vendor displays a variety of pickles in front of his cafeteria with name in Arabic that reads ‘food crime,’ in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)
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Updated 04 April 2022

Palestinians reminisce about Ramadan before the Nakba

A Palestinian vendor displays a variety of pickles in front of his cafeteria with name in Arabic that reads ‘food crime,’ in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)
  • The jerisha dish, a seasonal meal, was so costly that most families could not afford it and rich families cooked it in large quantities in Ramadan, distributing it to the people of the town to celebrate the Holy Month

GAZA CITY: “There is nothing more beautiful than the old days and the month of Ramadan in the past.”

With these simple words, Palestinian Um Ahmed Aqel started to recall the Ramadan atmosphere before the Nakba in 1948.

Born in 1925, Aqel was a married woman when she was forced to emigrate with her family from her hometown of Sarafand during the Nakba. She lost her infant daughter on the terrifying migration journey from Sarafand to Gaza. The 74th anniversary of the Palestinian tragedy is approaching on May 15.

At 97, her memory is still burning bright and untouched by the years. She recalls much of the Ramadan experience in Palestine before the Nakba.




Um Ahmed Aqel

“Life today is different and difficult, but at the time people were simple and good,” she said.

During Ramadan, the city was decorated and sweets shops thrived; this month was one of the most beautiful months of the year, because of its beautiful atmosphere and traditions, especially during the night.

Ali Al-Aseel, Native of Jaffa

“Before and during Ramadan, happiness fills the hearts, as if people are waiting for a dear one who has been away for a long time. Ramadan for us was the month of goodness and blessing.”

With a smile on a wrinkled face, Aqel remembered how women were busy in the days before Ramadan, preparing pottery jars for keeping water cold and making cheese for Suhoor meals.

The wealthier people in the town were keen to distribute flour and vegetables to the poor and to pay their zakat on the first day of Ramadan so that those entitled to it can buy what they needed for the holy month.

“The women used to meet as groups to prepare the Iftar table and exchange food items. Unlike these days, it did not contain many items and did not exceed the family’s needs, but rather it had one item that contained a meal of seasonal vegetables, such as peas or beans or Jerisha, which is crushed wheat cooked with red meat.”

The Jerisha dish, a seasonal meal, was so costly that most families could not afford it and rich families cooked it in large quantities in Ramadan, distributing it to the people of the town to celebrate the Holy Month.




Ali Al-Aseel

The town of Sarafand had a population of no more than 2,000 people at the time of the Nakba. “There was one small mosque in Sarafand. The children of the village, boys and girls, gathered near it at sunset, waiting for the Maghrib call to prayer, and they went cheering and glorified towards their homes.”

Ali Al-Aseel, 87, was a 13-year-old child, during the Nakba, which he endured with his family from Jaffa.

Like Aqel, Al-Aseel clearly remembers the Ramadan customs and traditions that seem unaffected by the long years since his childhood in Jaffa. He still remembers the house in which he was born and many details of daily life.

“During Ramadan, the city was decorated and sweets shops thrived, this month was one of the most beautiful months of the year, because of its beautiful atmosphere and traditions, especially during the night,” he said.

With the sunset, the beach was crowded with young people and children waiting for the Iftar cannon, which distinguishes the city of Jaffa from other large cities in Palestine. The locals relied on the loud sound it makes, marking the time of Iftar.

After Iftar, the men performed the evening and Tarawih prayers, gathered in public, and listened to religious invocations, or to radio programs, which were available in the family councils.

“Life was simple, and the month of Ramadan increases harmony, and families gathered on one Tabliah,” a small and low wooden table, around which family members gather, eating together from one dish.

Palestinian historian Salim Al-Mubayed said that much of the joy of welcoming the month of Ramadan and the atmosphere that distinguished it in the past has disappeared, whether because of the Nakba and its repercussions, or because of development, technology and preoccupation with life concerns.

“Where has this beautiful and simple era gone? Has it been swallowed up by technology, as it has swallowed up many beautiful appearances, customs and traditions?”


France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps
Updated 54 min 23 sec ago

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps
  • Minors were handed over to child protection services while the mothers would face judicial proceedings

PARIS: France has repatriated 35 children and 16 mothers from camps in Syria where family members of suspected Daesh terrorists have been held, the foreign ministry said in Paris.
“France has today undertaken the return to the country of 35 French minors who were in camps in northeast Syria. This operation also includes the return of 16 mothers from these same camps,” a statement said, adding that the minors were handed over to child protection services while the mothers would face judicial proceedings.


Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’
Updated 05 July 2022

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’
  • France is among world powers trying to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran
  • Iran has itself been in breach of the deal, ramping up projects with bomb-making potential

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid will press French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday for a tougher and time-limited tack on the Iranian nuclear negotiations, and warn that the Tehran-backed Hezbollah group is “playing with fire,” an official said.
Lapid’s visit to France, his first abroad since becoming caretaker premier last week, is also a chance to flex diplomatic muscles as Israelis gear up for a snap election in November.
France is among world powers trying to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that the previous US administration quit and which Israel opposed, deeming its caps insufficient.
As Lebanon’s former colonial administrator, France has additional clout in Beirut — whose economic crisis-hit leaders were jarred on Saturday when Israel shot down three Hezbollah drones launched toward one of its Mediterranean gas rigs.
“The French are very, very active on the Iranian issue,” a senior Israeli official told reporters.
“It is important for us to make our case ... Israel opposes a return to the JCPOA (2015 nuclear deal). In the same breath, we do not oppose a deal. We seek a very strong deal.”
Israel is not a party to the nuclear negotiations. But Western capitals have been attentive to its worries about its arch-enemy and worried it might take preemptive military action if it deems diplomacy a dead end.
Since the US walkout, Iran has itself been in breach of the deal, ramping up projects with bomb-making potential — though it denies having such designs. Its technical advancements have set a ticking clock on the so-far fruitless negotiations.
“We want an end to the unending talks,” said the senior Israeli official, calling for “coordinated pressure” on Iran and offering help on “drafting an appropriate framework” for that.
Israel has de facto front with Iran in Lebanon, home to Hezbollah. The senior Israeli official, alluding to Saturday’s shoot-downs, accused the group of “playing with fire.”
The official declined to elaborate on that warning, but said Lapid would share with Macron “new material explaining how Hezbollah is endangering Lebanon.”
Hezbollah and Israel fought a war across Lebanon’s border in 2006 but have been in a largely stable standoff since.
The Karish rig near Lebanon’s coast will produce gas not only for Israel, but eventually also for the European Union, the official said, tapping into EU countries’ quest to replace Russia as an energy supplier since it invaded Ukraine.


Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council
Updated 04 July 2022

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed to London to inaugurate the first partnership council between his country and the UK.

The council will be co-chaired by Shoukry and British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. It will include political consultations and discussions on economic and trade issues, with the participation of British Trade Policy Minister Penny Mordaunt.

A spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the launch of the council comes in light of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

While in London, Shoukry met with Lord Tariq Ahmad, British minister for South Asia, North Africa, the UN and the Commonwealth, to discuss bilateral relations.


Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan
Updated 04 July 2022

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan
  • The woman, who was rushed to the hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit, was listed in fair condition.

AMMAN: A woman was stabbed by her husband in a public street in Karak in front of the Karak Sharia Court on Monday, according to a Jordanian security source.

The unidentified man pulled out a knife and stabbed his wife in the back, chest and right hand, according to a source at Al Karak Public Hospital.

She was rushed to the hospital shortly after and admitted to the intensive care unit. She was described as in fair condition.

The attacker has since been apprehended, and police are currently investigating the incident.

According to eyewitnesses, family disputes between the couple led them to review the case at Sharia court before the situation escalated and the husband attacked the victim.

Following the death of 18-year-old Iman Ersheid, who was shot dead on campus, public outrage in Jordan has fueled calls for the death penalty to be enforced in such cases.

Last week, the High Criminal Court in Jordan sentenced a 50-year-old to death for stabbing his ex-wife before the Northern "Rusaifa" Sharia Court in a similar incident.


US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling
Updated 05 July 2022

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling
  • Navy targets weapons and drugs in Arabian Gulf and Red Sea

JEDDAH: The US Navy is offering cash rewards of up to $100,000 for information leading to the interception of smuggled weapons and narcotics in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea.

The initiative by the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet does not directly name Iran but analysts said it was clearly aimed at curbing the flow of Iranian arms to the Houthi militia in Yemen and restricting the lucrative regional drugs trade operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“Any destabilizing activity has our attention,” 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins said. “Definitely we have seen in the last year skyrocketing success in seizing both illegal narcotics and illicit weapons. This represents another step in our effort to enhance regional maritime security.”
Operators fluent in Arabic, English and Farsi will staff a phone hotline, and the Navy will also take tips online in Dari and Pashto. Payouts can be as high as $100,000 or the equivalent in vehicles, boats or food for tips that include information on planned attacks targeting Americans.
Asked whether new seizures could increase tensions with Iran, Hawkins listed the weapons and drugs the Navy hoped to intercept under the program. “That’s what we’re after,” he said. “That’s not in the interest of regional stability and security.”

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The fleet and its allies seized $500 million in drugs alone in 2021, more than the four previous years combined, and intercepted the shipment of 9,000 weapons, three times the number in 2020.
Despite a UN Security Council arms embargo on Yemen, Tehran has long been transferring rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. UN experts have examined missiles aimed at civilian targets and oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and traced the components back to Iran.
The rewards program is the latest initiative under 5th Fleet Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, who also launched a drone task force last year amid rising tension with Iran. The US Navy and Revolutionary Guard naval forces have had several encounters in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Houthis said last week they were monitoring increased US activity in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.“Because of this, defense and confrontation options are open,” a spokesman said.