Accessing worship: This year’s Ramadan part I

by the Yanoun team,

On the 18th of June Muslims all over the world, including in Palestine and Israel, started the holy month of Ramadan. During this month Muslims fast during the light hours of the day in solidarity with the suffering of the poor, and they dedicate themselves to prayers. As Jerusalem is the third holiest city for Muslims, many Palestinians wish to visit the Holy City to pray.

19.06.15. Bethlehem. Checkpoint 300  Muslims on their way to Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the first Friday of Ramadan. Photo EAPPI / I. Tanner

19.06.15. Bethlehem Checkpoint 300, Muslims on their way to Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the first Friday of Ramadan. Photo EAPPI / I. Tanner

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A Ramadan Journey through the Checkpoint in Photos

Each Friday during Ramadan, tens of thousands of Palestinians make the arduous journey from the West Bank to Jerusalem through checkpoints to pray at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.  Our summer team of Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) monitors the checkpoints every Friday to ensure that all who desire are able to go to Jerusalem to pray and report on any human rights abuses that occur during crossing.  Although the first few Fridays at the Bethlehem Checkpoint 300 were well organized, EA C. Naess notes the underlying humanitarian injustice in needing to cross a checkpoint at all.

“We want to make sure it opens when it is supposed to open, and that everyone with permits are allowed through,” she described. “This first Friday was very good on that. Very well organized, no big problems at the checkpoint. I was monitoring for eight hours, and everyone seemed happy to be able to reach Al Aqsa mosque in time for the prayer. But as my colleague said, it doesn’t really make sense to be impressed by the organizing of a checkpoint. It would be more impressive if the whole wall was removed and the need for a checkpoint would disappear.”

 

Crossing Bethlehem Checkpoint 300 on the First Friday of Ramadan. Photos c/o B. Myszkowski