QUARANTINE - DAY 37 - 11th April 2020
Friends in Bethlehem tell me Bethlehem is sad and rainy today. The people there are feeling the spirit of Easter is missing. In past years they would have visited each other and made coloured eggs and ma'amul - both Muslims and Christians - and exchanged coloured eggs with each other. Some would have visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This year on Easter Sunday, the door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre remains closed for the first time, since the Black Death in 1349, and Christians across Palestine will be praying in their homes.
From a rainy Bethlehem, a young woman of 26 years old shares her experience of quarantine in Bethlehem:
In light of these difficult circumstances, I want to share my story with you in the shadow of the epidemic of coronavirus which has spread throughout the world. At the beginning of Thursday 5th March, I went from my home in Beit Sahour to work in a place for women's clothing in Bethlehem as I usually do. At this time, the coronavirus was spreading all over the world and there was great fear among all people - because of this a lot of people were buying and using sterilizers and rubber gloves.
Despite this, however, life was going on in a normal way. My husband was working in Jerusalem in one of the hotels where a lot of tourists come every day, so they were following a lot of preventive measures. At the end of this Thursday, the authority announced a number of cases of the virus in a hotel in Bethlehem and they closed the city. When my husband and his workers tried to go to work in Jerusalem, all the crossings leading to Jerusalem from the Bethlehem area were closed. This made it difficult for him to go to work. Then the government announced a quarantine for the whole of Bethlehem. From then on, it was difficult to move freely.
At first, quarantine was a period of physical and psychological rest in the first week, but after that we got bored and we started to worry about the mechanics of how we would provide for the needs and requirements of living. This really hit us hard but we were confident that God would manage all matters.
In the midst of the emptiness of this new day to day living, our life revolved around coronavirus. Across all Social Media, all were talking about this epidemic. We were closely following the news of the country as well. We were trying to occupy our free time in activities like sports and reading and learning some new recipes to cook.
From the beginning of the quarantine until now - it's been more than a month - our days have been somewhat similar, but we are now in a situation where we see an unknown future. We are trying to give ourselves an optimistic outlook in order to be able to complete our daily life despite the difficult circumstances.
In conclusion, I wanted to share something simple from my daily experiences with you...
Mohamed Abu Haniyeh reports on an important discovery a few days ago:
"The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities last week announced an important archaeological discovery - an ancient cemetery dating back to the Bronze Age near Bethlehem. While a resident of Bethlehem was digging around the foundations of his house, he discovered the cemetery. The Bethlehem Department of Antiquities immediately went to the site, and the Tourism and Antiquities Police began excavation work on the site. It was found that the tomb dates back to the Bronze Age and contains a group of clay products. Ministry staff began extensive exploration and documentation work in order to accurately detect all archaeological material inside this site and study it fully. The Ministry stressed that this discovery will contribute to increasing awareness among citizens of the importance of preserving and protecting cultural heritage, as such findings play an important part in the cultural identity of our people. It will also lead to greater understanding of burial customs in the area of Bethlehem in the Bronze Age."
Photos courtesy of Mohamed Abu Haniye