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Lauren Booth: Israeli Persecution of Muslims in Ramadan and Christians

Respect for Religion – Israeli style.
By: Lauren Booth
What is it like to have faith in God and to live in Israel or under illegal occupation by its forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem? As Zionist leaders refer to the land they stole in 1948, with ever increasing alacrity as the "Jewish state,' one could be led to believe that this then must be a place where others who also worship the One God, will be welcome, nay protected, during their religious festivals.
Okay, I'm kidding. As we all know, Israel is no more a 'Jewish state' with respect for God, Allah, Elohim, Jehovah, Jaweh, than Ariel Sharon was a 'man of peace.'  
Zionism is a racist, nationalist movement that finds belief in anything besides conquest, control and money, in equal parts risible and threatening.
Right now, we are nearing the end of Ramadan. The Holy month of fasting. A time when Muslims worldwide have been practising calm introspection, self restraint and humility. These thirty days and nights, are devoted, in large part, to reading the Holy Quran and to prayer.  
At the heart of this beautiful month is also the call to attend Masjid – Mosque, for extra prayers, especially late at night and towards dawn. Mothers bring children, who sleep at the back of Masjid or play outside in the warm night air. Men and women stand for hours for Taraweer prayer. Tired and reciting Zhikr – remembrance of God -at around 1:30 in the morning, a busload of Palestinians returning from Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, late last Friday night, were attacked in their bus, by a group of heavily armed Jewish settlers. The attack took place on the main road between Ramallah and Nablus in the northern West Bank. The extremists came most likely from the  illegal Israeli settlement of Shilo,  It seems they had lain in wait for the worshippers.  
The Jewish militia – for these settlers all carry guns – threw rocks at the bus, injuring 8 Muslim pilgrims. The Palestinians suffered impact injuries and lacerations from broken glass. They were taken to Rafidia hospital in Nablus.
Earlier in the week, settlers had tried to mount an explosive device under a car in a village near the location of Friday's attack on the bus. Does the word 'terrorism' come to mind yet?
No, of course not, for settlers, being Jewish, are always and eternally 'victims' they can never, ever, (at least according the mainstream media and Evangelical Christian flag wavers in the US), be aggressors. 
As is traditional, following such an attack, the Israeli military closed the road. IOF soldiers set up new checkpoints, which will have the knock on effect of halting thousands of Palestinian Muslims seeking to travel to relatives this weekend for a traditional family Eid. Eid Al Fitra, marks the end of Ramadan. A time when Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration. In Palestine, such joy is restricted to whether or not you can reach your family at all. Some years ago I went to spend Eid with a friend from Jenin. We drove, or tried to from Ramallah.  A journey which should take around two hours. It took us five hours of misery due to Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks – huge stones had been dumped on major hill routes by the Israeli military in order to cause  hardship and misery to Palestinians Muslims at a time of celebration; psychological warfare.
The situation for Muslim prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centres during Ramadan breaches international statutes regarding religious tolerance.

The Israeli prison service (IPS) has escalated its repression measures against prisoners during  the month of fasting. Prisoner groups are reporting that strip searches and night raids have escalated. Last week, Israeli prison guards stormed a prison block at Nafha jail, Guards locked down cell block 14 at the prison after a search a barbaric operation which continued for more than 10 hours.

Meanwhile in many prisons guards  are keeping detainees from breaking their Ramadan fast after sundown. Israeli prison authorities are not serving the fast-breaking Iftar meal until 11 p.m. prisoners representative Muhammad al-Najjar told a Palestinian Prisoners Society lawyer.

In a statement, detainees also complained that they were not given enough food.  
Al-Najjar said that on Tuesday, prisoners were given two pears and a peach to be divided between five detainees. 

Interesting to note that pears and peaches are two of the most dense fruits with little liquid in them unless they are over ripe.

A lawyer for Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights reports that in Gilboa prison Israeli punitive measures have been in place since the very start of Ramadan. Surely, the IPS is not USING a religious festival to cause hardship on those in its care? But what's this? The prison administration of Gilboa have informed tprisoners of its intention to withdraw the ventilators from some sections, at a time when temperatures in cells reach ore than 100 degrees. Imagine the suffering on those fasting without water during the hours of daylight. Torture no? 

I don't have time here to include the dozens of attacks and harrassments that taken place of Palestinians at the Al Aqsa Mosque this month. Nor to go into detail of the hellish hours spent queuing in metal grid checkpoints, such as in Ramallah, in order for Muslim pilgrims from the West Bank, to gain any access at all to their capital city Jerusalem.

And it goes without saying – but I'll say it anyway – that in Gaza, a farmer has been shot, a barrage of Israeli missiles have fallen and the Zionist violence increases on all occasions when Muslims seek to praise Allah at the holiest moments.

The increasing attacks of Zionist authorities and their lackeys in the Settler movement, on Palestinians, during Holy festivals, be they Muslim, or Christian, shows a willingness to use religion against the religious population of the Holy Land itself.
Christians are not immune from attack, intimidation and disrespect either. There are more and more cases of extremist 'Jews' spitting at Christian pilgrims on the Via Dolorosa. 
Whilst last December, the mayor of a Jewish suburb of Nazareth refused to allow Christmas trees to be placed in town squares.  
Predominantly Jewish Nazareth Illit, or Upper Nazareth, is adjacent to Nazareth, where Christians believe Jesus spent much of his life. It has a sizable Arab Christian minority, as does mostly Muslim Nazareth itself.
"The request of the Arabs to put Christmas trees in the squares in the Arab quarter of Nazareth Illit is provocative," Mayor Shimon Gapso told AFP.
"Nazareth Illit is a Jewish city and it will not happen — not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor," he said of the northern Israeli town.
As a pathetic sop to the Christian community and we can guess under pressure from Christian Zionist groups in America, on August 7, Israel's High Court ruled that Gazan Christians can access Israeli and West Bank holy sites on holidays. 
Muslims from Gaza and many other places in the West Bank and worldwide are still denied that right. So let's not hear any more of Israel being a 'democracy' nor a 'Jewish' homeland. For surely, no monotheistic authority would seek to anger God, by denying worshippers the right to say his name in prayer during their Holy festivals.
However, an Apartheid regime. Well, it would that, wouldn't it?
For photos of Palestinian Muslims trying to reach Al Aqsa this week please go to:
Lauren Booth is a highly published author and broadcaster. She currently presents the ground breaking programs Remember Palestine and Diaspora on Lauren works extensively for charities in Palestine. In 2010 she accepted Islam.

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