On the second last day of Ramadan, about thirty Muslims, Jews and their friends gathered in Victoria Park an hour before nightfall to break the fast.
Traditionally, Muslims break the daily fast during Ramadan with a meal called Iftar. Iftar is held right after evening prayers. In this case, Muslim participants first prayed, and then with Jewish and non-Jewish friends ate dates and sweet cakes and drank water to symbolize the breaking of the fast.
The Halifax chapter of Independent Jewish Voices – Canada organized the respectful event to promote discussion and create friendship in the midst of horrifying events in Gaza and the West Bank in the last couple of weeks. In informal talks, people in the rather tranquil park setting shared information from reliable newspapers, and online sources. In addition some participants spoke of their relatives in Gaza – whom they cannot now locate — who were forced to flee their homes to dodge the shells and bombs raining down on Gaza. To date:
- more than 832 people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces
- 5,200 are injured, many very seriously
- more than 163 children have been killed by Israeli shells and airstrikes. Over 475 houses have been destroyed and 2,600 more have been struck and damaged, so are uninhabitable
- Israel has cut power lines, crippled the sewage treatment plants, so more than 1.2 million out of 1.7 million Gazans have little or no access to water and sanitation services
- On July 24, a United Nations’ school was destroyed by an Israeli missile which killed 15 Gazan civilians and injured 200 – the school was being used as a shelter for hundreds of Gazan refugees. Tens of thousands of Gazans have been forced to leave their homes and have nowhere safe to go as the border crossings with Israel and Egypt are closed. There is no way out by sea, as Israeli naval gunboats patrol the coast and lob missiles to the shore. This is how 4 Gaza boys aged 9-10, from the Bakr family, were killed when they played soccer on the beach one week ago.
- Israel has destroyed 46 schools, 56 mosques and 7 hospitals. Often civilians seeking safety inside were killed.
- The Israeli Broacast Authority (IBA) has refused to air a spot in which the names of Gazan children killed during ‘Operation Protective Edge’ were read out. This, despite almost 300,000 people reading the names in a post shared widely on the internet.
- Hundreds of Israeli-Arabs, who themselves are citizens of Israel, have been arrested, threatened and beaten — notably scores of children. This is a method of silencing dissent, and stopping protests in Israel.
However the tide is turning. People all over the world are telling Israel – and the United States – to stop bombing Gaza, and to stop the illegal blockade, the illegal arrests. Israel wants to grab the Palestine people’s land, but after 47 years, the Palestinians continue to fight. As one person at last night’s gathering in Halifax said, “Everything in today’s world is made in China; but courage is made in Gaza.”
Note: Articles published by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.
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