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Palestine: Waiting for the Iftar Cannon in Gaza

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Palestine, Arts & Culture, Religion, War & Conflict
Iftar Cannon [1]

Iftar Cannon

The war on Gaza has made many traditions a distant memory. Palestinian blogger Hazem [2] [ar] laments the end of a Ramadan [3] 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 [4]), 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.