Palestine: Waiting for the Iftar Cannon in Gaza

Iftar Cannon

Iftar Cannon

The war on Gaza has made many traditions a distant memory. Palestinian blogger Hazem [ar] laments the end of a Ramadan ritual, which his grandfather remembers and which is no more.

It is a tradition marked in many Muslim countries, where cannons, which signal the breaking the fast at sunset (Iftar), and which are no longer fired in Gaza. He writes:

آبائنا وأجدادنا لا زالو كل يوم يحدثونا عن شيئ كان سابقاً يسمى مدفع الافطار , وماان حدثونا الا وان تمنوا تلك الأيام أن تعود …
وفي حديث مع جدي على مائدة الافطار , حدثني قليلاً عن تلك الأيام ( البريئة ) كما وصفها هذا الختيار ..
فاستغربت من كلماته واحاسيسه التي كانت تنبعث من قلبه , فأخذ يحدثني وعيناه تدمع من شدة مرارة الايام فقال
آآآه يا جدي لو يعود مدفع الافطار , والفرحة تدخل كل بيت ودار ,, وبيت ستك يجمعنا وحوالينا كوانين النار , ونعيش ليالي رمضان ..
Our parents and grandparents still talk about something called the Iftar (breaking fast) cannon, and as soon as they remember that, they wish that the old days would return.
Over Iftar, my grandfather spoke about those ‘innocent’ days, as that old man described them. I was surprised with his words and his sensitivity, which came straight from his heart. His eyes were shedding tears of bitterness over those days as he said:

Oh my grandson, if only the Iftar cannon would return. It will bring happiness to every home and room. We used to gather in your grandmother's house, all of us, sitting around the fire ovens, celebrating the nights of Ramadan.

On life in Gaza during Ramadan, the old man recalls:

تلاقي الفطرة أشكال وألوان , هادا كنافه بالسمن البلدي , وهاد قطايف محشية بلوز ,, واعمامك كلهم صغار ,, هون فانوس وهون لعب اطفال والحارة كلها انوار ..
نتزاور أهل وجيران , والبسمة تملى أباريق واجرار , نسهر ونتلكم ونحكي قصة وأسرار , عن فارس أسد ومغوار .
You will find all sorts of delicacies. Here you will see Kunafa, made with natural fat; and there qatayef, stuffed with almonds. Your uncles were young and you would find a lantern (fanoos) here and a toy there. The entire neighbourhood was lit up.

We used to visit our relatives and neighbours, and everyone had a smile on his face. We used to stay up at night and tell each others stories and secrets, about a knight, a lion and an adventurer.

Returning back to the modern day, the grandfather laments:

آآآآه يا جدي لو يرجع مدفع الافطار
لا أسرَى ولا معتقلات
لاحواجز ولا مستوطنات
في حارتنا تعلا الرايات
ونغني كبار وصغار
في بلدنا بلد الأحرار
لو يرجع مدفع الافطار
Oh my grandson, if only the Iftar cannon returns,
There were no prisoners, and no arrests,
No barriers and no settlements.
In our neighbourhood, the banners flew high,
And the young and old would sing.
In our country, the country of the free,
If only the Iftar cannon would return.

Hazem then continues:

ولم يكمل جدي المشوار , حتى ادمعت عيناي ألم من هذا الواقع الجبار , حصار ودمار والاهل والجيران كلُ في وادِ محتار .
قبلت جبينه ودعوت ربي أن يجمعنا رمضان في خيرِ وسعادة واستقرار .
My grandfather did not complete his story, and my eyes swelled with tears over our brutal reality – living under siege and in destruction, with all our relatives and neighbours scattered everywhere, each alone and confused. I kissed my grandfather's forehead and prayed to Allah to reunite us during Ramadan in wellness, happiness and stability.


  • Tal

    Did ever this young boy, ever thought what is the part of the Palestinians in this situation, or they are blaming all on the Israelis?

    • x

      Dear Tal,

      in this post, nobody was talking about “fault”. Read again. It is about a better life.

      • James

        Respectfully, the post obviously does speak of ‘fault’. The author speaks of the ‘siege and destruction’ but only in a way that casts the Palestinian people as helpless victims who are in no way responsible for their own current condition.

        These are some key lines:
        “Oh my grandson, if only the Iftar cannon returns,
        There were no prisoners, and no arrests,
        No barriers and no settlements.

        Notice there is only mention of external problems, I guess grampa forgot to mention all the internal problems, like persecution of Christians, rocket lobbing, suicide attacks, Fatah torturing and executing Hamas and vice versa, honor killings, etc.

        Of course it is not the Iftar cannon that will put an end to these trying times, but a palenstinian recognition that Israel is a fact and that the first order of business should be peace, not negotiations through terrorism and violence.

  • […] UPDATE: Palestinian blogger Hazem laments a Ramadan of the past. […]

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  • MERC

    Fault? Did someone utter the ‘f’ word? The Zionist movement sets up shop in someone else’s country under the protection of British bayonets, stockpiles weapons and trains forces until the time is ripe, ethnically cleanses the indigenous population in 1948, steals their homes and lands, hankers for a re-run of 1948 in 1967, occupies the rest of Palestine (plus great chunks of neighboring Arab countries), periodically hammers the Palestinians, invades and occupies Lebanon, colonizes the Palestinian territories with its Taliban, and screams victim whenever it encounters resistance. But, hey, that’s OK. Who said anything about fault?

  • Dear Merc,

    If the British help some people, it was the Arabs. The leader of the Arab ligion was a high British Genral. Egypt and Jordan were pupet regimes of Britian, who fought the young state of Israel in 1948.

    Most of the British administration thought that an Arab state in Palestine will be better for them for geo-political reasons. The error of the Palestinans was that they rebeld against the British (1936-1939), and though, the british had to destroy their leadership. The Jews manged to supress their Gurila organisations and thous, avoded the Jewish Leadrship and miltery organisation by the British. This is one of the reasons that Jews prosper under the British mandate, and the Palestinans detriorated.

    about 1967, it was Egypt that closed the gates of the red sea, and though caused a cause for war. It was Nazer how said he will destroy Israel.

    The Palestians and the Arabs, allways went for war and violence, and therfore lost the wars, and the land

  • MERC

    Tal, old boy, your grasp of history is as shaky as your grasp of spelling. It’s really quite simple: No idiotic promise to the Zionists by Balfour in 1917, no aiding and abetting by the British Mandate of the Zionist cuckoo in the Palestinian nest, no Israel. And to show their gratitude, the Zionist terror gangs turned on the British in the 40s before turning on the natives in 1948.

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