Palestinians Prepare for Feast Amid Fiscal Crisis
People’s Daily Online, December 29, 2006
On the eve of Muslims feast of Greater Bairam (Eid al-Adha) which falls on Saturday (Dec. 30), a Palestinian woman in her 50s in front of a cloth store in Gaza city, shouted that “Be merciful to us! Is there still such high prices?”
The woman, who only identified herself as Um Muhammad, stood next to her three children in al-Shiekh Radwan local market, arguing with the salesman who asked 10 Israeli Shekels for a piece of cloth.
“We pass through hard state of insolvency,” said the woman with obvious regret.
In the Palestinian territories, about 165,000 public servants haven’t been paid their overdue salaries since the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), who sworn to destroy Israel, took office in March.
The Hamas-led government’s failure to pay salaries and the financial crisis were the key objective that pushed Palestinian factions to look for a unity government.
International donors stopped funding the Hamas administration because it has refused to recognize Israel and renounce violence.
Instead, the Hamas-led government used to pay employees bits of their money occasionally.
“I have been impatiently waiting for my son to get his advance payment from the government to buy for his other brothers,” said Um Muhammad, who wants to buy new clothes on the occasion of the feast.
But the woman, veiled in black except her face, was angry from the high prices.
“The sellers don’t take the impasse and lack of cash into consideration… the prices are high as fire,” said the woman.
At the Eid of al-Adha, Muslims slaughter animals and distribute their meats. By doing this, they commemorate Prophet Abraham’s eagerness to sacrifice his son upon Allah’s order.
The feast is distinguished by buying new cloths for children and adults as well. Through Gaza streets, traders installed temporary stalls to sell sweets, chocolate and toys.
The streets were clean as it rained recently and security members did not took to the streets with burning tires as they did in the fast-breaking Eid two months ago.
But it is unlike any other Eid. Israel still tightens closure on the Gaza Strip, allowing limited entry to both people and goods.
“My parents are stuck on the border. I pray for their entry because I can’t imagine spending Eid without them,” said Ibtehal Nassar, a university student who was shopping with her young brothers.
Hundreds of Palestinians were stranded on both sides of Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza Strip as the gate was opened for hours.
Israel closes the border crossing since June in response to the seizure of its soldier by Palestinian militants. The Jewish state opens the passage two days every ten days.
Maher Abu Jazer, a cattle trader, has a big barn filled with tens of sheep and calves, but few of them were sold before the Eid.
“It seems we are going to lose more if this situation remained, ” Abu Jazer said, adding that he has only sold a few number of sheep over the past 10 days.
“Some traders have counted on the governmental loans that were paid to (the government’s) employees, but as you see there are no buyers,” said Abu Jazer.
Ahmed al-Qaik, a security member employed by the government, said he can’t afford buying a sheep for the upcoming holiday this year because of the lack of salary.
He came with some friends just to watch the animals, saying “in spite of siege and the absence of cash, I will keep saying happy new Eid.” .