Visitors to the old quarter in Hebron during Ramadan are surprised to see how many members from the international mission are there. They are not there, however, to monitor the situation on the ground, follow up on any violations or help resolve any problems that might be caused by radical settlers.
They are there to help the old quarter traders — who are struggling under tough economic conditions — in preparing qatayef (a sweet dumpling filled with cream), in addition to other types of sweets, and offer them to fasting Palestinians for low prices, in the context of the project to revive the old quarter economically. For the fifth time, the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) and the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) distributed flour to shop owners in the old quarter in an attempt to reinvigorate economic activity there.
In cooperation with the HRC in the old quarter, which is home to 35,000 Palestinians, the TIPH offered 44 tons of flour and semolina for free to bakeries and sweetshops during Ramadan, thus causing a decrease in the price of bread and sweets to less than half the price during other months.
Catrina Foski, vice president of the TIPH department of research, studies and media, said, “The project aims to encourage citizens of Hebron to visit the old quarter during Ramadan to promote its economy and bring back a sense of normalcy. Most Palestinian citizens living in Hebron can benefit from this project.”
The TIPH is a civil observation mission that strives to restore normal life to the city and drafts reports regarding any breaches of the signed international agreements and international law. The mission reports to the concerned parties and the six participating countries.
Imad Hamdan, HRC general manager, stated, “We are trying by all available means to revive the old quarter through encouraging Palestinian citizens to visit it, knowing that it is undergoing tough economic times due to action taken by Israel.” He added, “The committee aims to preserve the cultural heritage of the town through renovating its buildings and reusing the abandoned ones, in addition to fostering commercial and economic activity there.”
Abou Mahmoud, a trader and one of the 18 people benefitting from the project, said, “We reopen the shops during the month of Ramadan thanks to the support of the TIPH and the HRC. There are many needy families who cannot afford their holiday sweets due to the increased prices. So, we sell sweets and bread for half price during the holy month. A Palestinian citizen in the old quarter can buy 1 1/2 kilos of bread for 2 1/2 shekels (about $0.70) and 1 kilo of qatayef for 3 1/2 shekels (about $0.99), which is half the typical price.”
The HRC held a series of meetings in the past few months to launch the “Amar Ya Biladi” project, in cooperation with civil and governmental associations to revive economic life in the old quarter, which has been suffering due to measures implemented by the occupation and settlements.
The plan aims to boost commercial activity in the old quarter’s markets and support traders and shoppers by offering encouraging benefits and providing security for houses, markets and shops.
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