In blockaded Gaza, Muslims, Christians live in harmony

thumbs_b_c_7dfaf5fa79778619ce1afb811b9013f5By Mohamed Majed

GAZA CITY, Palestine

The friendship between two Palestinians — Hatim Hiriz, a Muslim, and Kamal Tarzi, a Christian — reflects the religious and cultural coexistence that has always characterized the Gaza Strip.

Tarzi, 56, accompanies his friend, Hiriz, 47, who is blind, to and from the mosque each day and helps him perform everyday tasks.

In the Gaza Strip, where Christians and Muslims have long lived in harmony, their friendship isn’t considered unusual.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Tarzi said that the two communities had lived side by side since time immemorial.

“This is always how it has been in Gaza,” he said.

Tarzi recalled how he first met Hiriz 15 years ago, with whom he has since established a strong bond of friendship.

“Hiriz, who used to work as a pharmacist, lost his sight six years ago while preparing a prescription,” he said.

“Before going blind, he used to frequently pray at the mosque, so I decided to help him,” Tarzi added.

“Now I accompany him to the mosque each day, waiting for him outside while he prays,” he said. “When he is done, we come back together.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AA

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A ‘Catastrophe’ That Defines Palestinian Identity

For the people of Palestine, the trauma of 70 years ago never ended.

Israeli Arabs wave Palestinian flags during a rally to mark the Nakba in Megiddo

Israel-Gaza violence: Christians and Muslims attend vigil

 665003303001_5762243875001_5762209085001-vsOrthodox Christians and Muslims in the Occupied West Bank have joined a march to remember those who were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza.

Palestinian Orthodox Christians have limited their celebrations on Palm Sunday, restricting the occasion to religious rituals to mourn the deaths of 17 Gazans killed in a protest on Friday.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom reports from Ramallah.

FULL ARTICLE AND VIDEO FROM AL JAZEERA 

Senior Hamas Official: ‘I Think We Can All Live Here in This Land – Muslims, Christians and Jews’

ahmed_yousef-400-x-267

Yes, hello.

Hello to senior Hamas official Dr. Ahmed Yousef, former diplomatic adviser to former Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh. This is Nir Gontarz from Haaretz.

Hi, how are you?

I’m good…

Nir, your name is Nir?

N-i-r?

Yes. Gontarz.

Gon Gon?

Gontarz. Can you tell me a little bit about Hamas’ plans for this holiday season in Israel?

What do you mean, holiday season in Israel?

To the best of my knowledge, there’s supposed to be a march to the fence [on the Gaza-Israel border] during the Passover holiday in Israel, and after that on Independence Day, your Nakba Day.

Aha.

Is Hamas moving from military action to civil action?

Actually, Mr. Nir, it is not Hamas who made the decision, but the youth. The main idea was thought up by the youth. There are people who think there is no hope, no future, and that we have to do something – ya’ani, to remind the whole world that we as Palestinians are still suffering, we are still living in the diaspora or in refugee camps, and there’s a certain decision by the United Nations, [Resolution] UN 194, that we are trying to implement, ya’ani, and to send a message to the world community that our problem is not solved and we’re still suffering, and continue to see our land being abused by the occupation, or Israelis trying to squeeze us to the corner, punishing the Palestinians, and this is something that this generation of Palestinians is not going to accept. And so they’re doing their own civil march, they don’t intend to do anything belligerent, and I think this is the message they would like to carry to the whole world, about the situation and the suffering in Gaza.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HAARETZ 

Israel-Gaza violence: Christians and Muslims attend vigil

An interfaith march held in Ramallah for victims killed by Israeli forces in Gaza was a peaceful display of prayer and protest.

ramallah

 https://players.brightcove.net/665003303001/4k5gFJHRe_default/index.html?videoId=5762209085001

Orthodox Christians and Muslims in the Occupied West Bank have joined a march to remember those who were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza.

FULL ARTICLE WITH VIDEO FROM AL JAZEERA

Easter in Jerusalem: No access for Gaza’s Christians

easter in jerusalemThree days to go before Good Friday, Israel has not issued permits for Gaza Palestinian Christians to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, Church authorities have said.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said church authorities had applied for around 600 permits for Gaza Palestinian worshipers to travel, but had not received any.

Gaza is under an ongoing Israeli blockade and people’s movements out of the Gaza Strip is tightly restricted by the Israeli military.

The Israeli military-run authority that operates in the occupied West Bank defended its policy to deny the applicants access to the city of Jerusalem in the West Bank, and said it would only issue permits to people aged at least 55.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

How a Gaza Christian became a blind Muslim’s eyes

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The man constantly checked his watch as he stood at the entrance to the Borno Mosque in the center of Gaza City. Anyone coming across him couldn’t help but wonder why he wasn’t praying inside with the others. Why did he keep checking his watch? For whom or what was he waiting? Then a man wearing dark glasses exited the mosque. The man at the door guided him and helped him put on his shoes. Al-Monitor asked after the two men and found that the one by the door is a Christian who regularly waits there to assist his blind Muslim friend.

Kamal Tarzi, 55, known as Abu Elias, has stuck by his Muslim friend, the 45-year-old pharmacist Hatem Khreis since Khreis lost his sight preparing a prescription five years ago. Tarzi says he is Khreis’ best friend and eyes.

“Hatem and I have been friends for 15 years, and we have been through joy and pain,” Tarzi told Al-Monitor. “I always accompany him, and people are shocked when they learn that I am Christian and that he is Muslim, given the depth of our relationship.”

Tarzi explained how he came to escort his friend: “After my friend lost his sight, his life turned upside down. He went from preparing medical prescriptions for patients to relying on people’s help to be able to live his daily life and take his own medicine.

“Growing up, Hatem would always perform prayers at the mosque, but after the incident five years ago, he was no longer able to do so because there was no one available to guide him there. I saw how he would shed tears whenever the call to prayer would come from the mosque. That is why I decided to take him to the mosque to pray as he did in the past.

“The first day I helped him get to the mosque, four years ago, he was so happy. So I told him I would be taking him every day to perform all the prayers. He was thrilled to hear my decision. It was as if he had found something he had lost for a long time.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL MONITOR