Eid el-Adha 2016 in Tel Ruemeida and Jabel Rachme neighborhoods of Hebron
On Shuhada street there are bright colored signs and benches, an attempt to make things look normal. I hear tractors working where once there was the meat market, in more efforts of erasure. But the new coat of paint is cracked, and the closed shops and the entrances full of rubble or grown with weeds, the stray dogs and stale smell clearly show that the lively market is now a ghost town. When I enter the neighborhood though, I can feel the relaxed and happy atmosphere of the holiday. Children are playing in fancy new clothes, and the paths are more busy than usual with people going to visit relatives. One of the men I meet, who is a Jerusalem resident, describes the difficulty he had with his boss getting time off work for the Eid. He insisted, but says it’s harder for Palestinians, who have little power to fight for worker rights.
A friend and teacher at the Jabel Rachme mosque tells me about the holiday:
“We are on the second day of Eid el-Adha. For Muslims this is a very important holiday. Meeting family and closeness between family members is a value and message of the holiday. We visit each other, relatives meet, go out on trips, play, laugh and joke. The men visit their sisters and nieces and bring them gifts or money.”
“Here, this is my brother who has down syndrome, but he understands the meaning of the holiday and came to visit me despite the difficulties the soldiers gave him. Eid el-Adha commemorates the story of our prophet Ibrahim who loved his son who was born at an older age very much. He had two children and Ismail was closest to his heart. The prophet saw himself sacrificing his son in a dream. Prophets’ dreams are messages from God, so the next day the prophet told his son he would sacrifice him to God as he saw in the dream, but the moment he put the knife on his neck God sent a sheep instead of his son and Ismail stayed alive. Every year Muslims who can afford to sacrifice a lamb do so and give out the meat to poor people. This way we celebrate and mark this day. It brings much love and warmth between people. In the Muslim religion we only have two holidays with two months between them, so the joy is very great. ”
I ask How is the holiday here in Jabl el-Rahme?
“Quiet, but it’s a sensitive area, full of problems. Hard laws are implemented with the aim of expelling people. For example they close the area with blocks, for example sometimes we can enter only if we have a number. Sometimes you have a name and sometimes you don’t. You wait in lines, sometimes for many hours. Even if you’re in a rush to get treatment or if you’re going ot the Doctor, you have to walk.”
“Now we’ve reached the most painful point. If someone from your family was once incarcerated, or was given a few months or years probation in an Israeli court, he’s afraid to enter the area because in a second he can be arrested. Relatives who don’t have this problem come in fear. You know it’s an area with Shahids (those killed). Even if they do come, the sad thing is that they come for 5-10 minutes and run away because they’re scared. They feel they sacrifice a lot coming here to visit their famkly, sister or aunt.”