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

A Christian Human Rights Monitor Describes the Horrific Realities of Life Under Israeli Occupation

gaza

“Don’t they treat us like animals?”

It’s a hot friday morning, in the third week of Ramadan, and we’re at Qalandiya checkpoint, monitoring access for Palestinian women, children, and the elderly (including men over 45) who are traveling to Jerusalem for Friday prayers at al-Aqsa.

It is for one day only, and men under 45 are not allowed through, because the Israeli authorities have identified them a “security risk.”

“We just want to pray,” a Palestinian man exclaims, as he tries to argue with the soldiers.  “How are we a security risk for wanting to pray in al-Aqsa? You can check me! I’m carrying nothing!”

Men under 45 are not allowed through, because the Israeli authorities have identified them a “security risk.”  “We just want to pray,” a Palestinian man exclaims, as he tries to argue with the soldiers.  “How are we a security risk for wanting to pray in al-Aqsa? You can check me! I’m carrying nothing!”

I’m here with a Christian program, monitoring occupation related human rights abuses in the West Bank, and three times a week, we monitor the access—or lack thereof—through Qalandiya checkpoint.

Outside of the men’s entry to the checkpoint, many men under 45 are gathered.  Some try and pass through, even though they know that they will be rejected.

At first I ask the men coming back why they have been rejected, but after a few hours I’ve moved on to asking how many times they’ve tried to pass through.  “Ten times now,” says one man, smiling broadly.  I am encouraged by him; I see it as a peaceful kind of resistance, to attempt to do something which should be your right, despite knowing you won’t be allowed to.

At first I ask the men coming back why they have been rejected, but after a few hours I’ve moved on to asking how many times they’ve tried to pass through.  “Ten times now,” says one man, smiling broadly.  I am encouraged by him; I see it as a peaceful kind of resistance, to attempt to do something which should be your right, despite knowing you won’t be allowed to.

As soon as someone nearby hears that I, despite my Scandinavian features and big blonde hair, speak Arabic, a big group of teenage boys bombard me with questions. Two topics are reoccurring:  Whether or not I am fasting, and if I think what I see happening is right.

Do you fast, they ask me. No, I’m a Christian we fast in or before Easter, I tell them. Is this right what you see here, they ask me. Every time I answer the same way:  No, of course this is not right. How can you put an age limit on the right to pray?

A relationship with God is an undeniable, inalienable human right.  Praying is an undeniable, inalienable human right.

A relationship with God is an undeniable, inalienable human right. Praying is an undeniable, inalienable human right.   

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST