EID e Milad un Nabi – Importance in Islam

Allahuma salli ala Muhammadin wa – ala – Ale Muhammad

 

O God! Shower thy blessings on Muhammad and the descendants of Muhammad


Introduction: Eid-e-Milad is celebrated in the memory of Prophet Muhammed. The Holy Prophet was born on the twelfth day of Rabi-ul-Awwal in 570 C.E Saudi Arabia, Mecca. Rabi-ul-Awwal is the third month of the Muslim year. Eid-e-Milad is both, a time to rejoice and a time to mourn, since the Prophet passed away on the same day.

History of Celebration: The tradition of celebrating the Holy Prophet’s birthday on a large scale began in Egypt by the Prophet’s descendants, through his daughter Fatima. It was celebrated mainly by religious scholars and religious establishments. They gathered to hear sermons, distributed sweets, alms and particularly honey, the Prophet’s favorite.

Maulid: Eid-e-Milad is also called Maulid, since it is Prophet Muhammed’s Eid andthe song sung in praise of the Prophet’s birth is called a Maulud. From the Middle Ages, it was believed that, listening to the recitation of Maulud has not only worldly but heavenly rewards too.The earliest accounts for the observance of Mawlid can be found in eighth-century Mecca, when the house in which Muhammad was born was transformed into a place of prayer by Al-Khayzuran (mother of Harun al-Rashid, the fifth and most famous Abbasid caliph). The early celebrations included elements of Sufic influence, with animal sacrifices and torchlight processions along with public sermons and a feast. The practice spread throughout the Muslim world, assimilating local customs, to places such as Cairo, where folklore and Sufic practices greatly influenced the celebrations. By 1588 it had spread to the court of Murad III, Sultan of the Ottoman empire. In 1910, it was given official status as a national festival throughout the Ottoman empire. Today it is an official holiday in many parts of the world.

Barah Wafat: This festival is also referred to as, ‘Barah Wafat’ which stands for the twelve days of sickness of the Prophet, before he passed away. The day is for both mourning and celebrating. The Sunni sect and the Shia sect have a different take on the ways of celebrating of this day.

Celebrations by Shia Muslims: Shia Muslims celebrate this day to remember that Prophet Muhammed chose Hazrat Ali as his successor at Gadhir-e-Khumm. This occasion symbolises the Habillah (the chain of imamat or the next leader). Eid-e-Milad and Eid-al-Gadhir are two names for marking the same day, for two different reasons.

Eid-e-Milad or Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi – This name is used to mark the Prophet’s birth and death anniversary.

Eid-al-Gadhir – This name is used to mark the handing over of the spiritual rein to Hazrat Ali at Gadhir-e-Khumm. (The route between Syria and Yemen)

On this day, believers gather to recite special prayers for thanksgiving to Allah for his favours and sending Prophet Muhammed to the world, with his message to guide the people. People attend lectures and recitations on the Life and Instructions of the Holy Prophet. Poetry or Naats are recited after prayers and sweets are distributed amongst the poor.

Shia Muslims also mourn on this day as it is also the day when the Holy Prophet passed away.

Bohra Muslims: a part of the Shia sect, too celebrate the twelve days of Rabi-ul-Awwal with prayers and by listening to recitals. Prayers are conducted in mosques for all twelve days. Many Bohras perform Zyarat (a form of prayer that is performed as a meeting with the one you are praying to).

Celebrations by Sunni Muslims: Prayers are held throughout the month. On the twelfth day of the month Muslims remember the Holy Prophet and his teachings. Mourning on this day is not practiced at all because according the Sunni Muslims believe that mourning for the dead beyond three days hurts the departed soul.

In South Asia, people carry out processions chanting praises of the Holy Prophet and Imam Hazrat Ali. These processions are decorated with fruits, flowers or even scenes depicting religious sites, episodes and figures. The sweet dish ‘Kheer’ (sweet porridge made of rice) is prepared as a tradition in Muslim homes. Among non-Muslim countries, India is noted for its Mawlid festivities. The relics of Muhammed are displayed after the morning prayers in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir at Hazratbal shrine, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Shab-khawani night-long prayers held at the Hazratbal shrine are attended by thousands. In Pakistan’s Mawlid celebration, the national flag is hoisted on all public buildings, and a 31 gun salute in the federal capital and a 21 gun salute at the provincial headquarters are fired at dawn. The cinemas shows religious rather than secular films on 11th and 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal. Whereas in Saudi Arabia & Middle – east prayers are held, sweets are prepared and the Prophet is remembered through his words. Saudi Arabia is the only Muslim country where Mawlid is not an official public holiday. Participation in the ritual celebration of popular Islamic holidays is seen as an expression of the Islamic revival.

Written by

Hatef Mokhtar

Oslo, Norway

(imo.thejakartapost.com / 07.07.2011)

” VIER SOORTEN MENSEN OP DE WERELD “

“Voorwaar, het wereldse leven behoort slechts toe aan vier soorten mensen:
Een dienaar die van Allah rijkdom en kennis heeft gekregen, waardoor hij zijn Heer vreest, zijn familiebanden onderhoudt en waarvan hij weet dat Allah er recht op heeft. Deze bevindt zich in de hoogste gradaties.
Een dienaar die van Allah kennis gekregen heeft, maar geen rijkdom. Toch is hij oprecht in zijn intentie en zegt hij: “Als ik geld zou hebben, dan zou ik zoals die of die doen”. Voorwaar, hij wordt (beloond) middels zijn intentie en hij zal dezelfde beloning krijgen als de eerste.
Een dienaar die van Allah rijkdom gekregen heeft, maar geen kennis. Hij geeft zijn geld losbandig uit zonder kennis, zonder zijn Heer te vrezen en zonder daarmee zijn familiebanden te onderhouden en zonder het recht van Allah te kennen. Deze (persoon) bevindt zich in de meest bedorven gradaties.
Een dienaar die van Allah geen rijkdom en geen kennis heeft gekregen, maar die zegt: “Als ik geld zou hebben, zou ik hetzelfde doen als die of die”. Voorwaar, hij wordt (beloond) middels zijn intentie en hij zal dezelfde last ondergaan.”

Deze authentieke hadith is overgeleverd van de Profeet (vrede en zegeningen zij met hem) in Ahmad en Tirmidhi. De hadith is sahih.

“We’re going to the border on July the 16th!”

The July 16th Youth Movement from Turkey, aims to show our support for a Free Syria. The Movement is organizing an event: “We’re going to the border on July the 16th!”. Young people around Turkey will join this event and demonstrate at the border on that day. Furthermore, refugee camps in Hatay will be visited. The Youths will bring with them some notes and messages that tell our feelings and opinions on the Syrian issue. To make our Syrian brothers and sisters feel that they are not alone.

Let’s also write a few sentence! Arabic, English or Turkish, please add your words for a Free Syria!

(They will all be translated to Arabic)

For Example;

“””We support our brothers and sisters in Syra for their cause. Your cause is also ours and we will always help you to get the freedom.May Allah guide you and be with you!! (Rokiyya Noor, Turkey)”””
…………………………​…………………………​…..

A Statement from the July 16th Youth Movement

The Syrian people rose up in the face of the repressive regime that has ruled the country with an iron fist for 48 years. The protest movements started in Syria on March 15, 2011 in the city of Daraa, and then spread to all corners of Syria with protesters demanding freedom and dignity, as hundreds of thousands of the Syrian people took to the streets with the chants of “freedom, freedom”!

The Ba’athist regime utilized heinous violence to suppress the freedom protests and in the process have killed more than 3,000 civilians according to official estimates, including 90 children.

Every day that passes in Syria, there is an increase in the number of killed as the regime continues to massacre our brothers and sisters in Syria only because they asked for freedom!

We, as young men and women in Turkey, so that we will not stand as silent spectators to injustice and brutality committed against the Syrian people, have decided that we will move from all corners of Turkey on Friday June 15th, 2011, towards Hatay, and will meet on Saturday July 16th, 2011, to support our Syrian brothers and sisters. We will visit our guests who have fled from the repression and brutality of the Syrian regime and do what we can to help ease their pain.

If we look at the history of the world, all revolutions and movements for change and freedom have fallen on the shoulders of the youth.
The Syrian youth and children from Daraa lit the spark for the freedom movements in Syria.

We, as Turkish youth, as a united front, will stand in solidarity with our Syrian brothers and sisters in times of distress and prosperity, in times of misfortune and happiness. We will share in their happiness, we will share in their urgency, and their sorrow and we will demonstrate to everyone that the Syrian people are not alone.

The people of the Middle East know the region well, and we are an integral part of this region. We as Turkish youth, in the name of humanity, support the self-determination of the Syrian people.

We will see you on the border of the Hatay Province on Saturday July 16, 2011.

They may be able to set borders constrain us, but they will never be able to constrain our dreams.

for information:
16temmuzgenclikhareketi@gmail.​com

(Facebook / 07.07.2011)

Nigeria: Kaduna – Women Investing in Peace

Mni — Participants trickled into the venue, most of them delayed by the rain while the organisers were busy putting finishing touches to the hall decoration. The women had organised interfaith activities in the past, including an interfaith dialogue and a book launch. The sensitisation seminar for key stakeholders which was held on July 5 2011at the Women’s Multipurpose Centre in Kaduna.

Planning for the event began after the post election violence that erupted in Kaduna state after the presidential election. The members of the Interfaith Council of Muslim and Christian Women’s Associations convened a meeting to discuss the crisis and how to contribute to peace building.

An air of sadness filled the room as they all told stories of their friends and relations who were either killed, maimed or lost property during the orgy of violence.

At the end of their discussion, they decided to organise two activities, a joint press conference and visits to the camps for displaced people in different towns in the state. After successfully implementing the two activities, they organised a sensitization seminar which was attended by policy makers and representatives of various civil society organizations in the state and beyond. The focus of the seminar was The Role of Women In Peace Building.

The event started with an opening prayer and the national anthem. The Co Chairmen of the Board of Trustees of the Council Reverend JJ Hayap and Professor Ibrahim NaIya Sada delivered goodwill messages. Reverend Hayap said seventy percent of church congregation are women and women are soft natured and known to be promoters of human rights. They therefore qualify to be peace makers. Professor Sada said women are known for their ability to shape the society being the nurturers of generations of humanity. They are the mothers and wives of policy makers.

 

In a welcome address, the Coordinator of the Council, Reverend Sister Kathleen Mc Garvey of Our Lady of Apostles OLA Kaduna said the presence of the participants was a confirmation that women have an indispensable contribution to make. She stressed that there is no peace without justice and women’s concerns and the root cause of poverty should be addressed. Sister Kathleen said the fact that violence is perpetuated in the name of religion makes it necessary to examine the level of justice or lack of it in our society.

Two traditional rulers who attended the event delivered good will messages. The Agwan Atyap, Dr Harrison Bungon congratulated the women for taking the initiative while the Agwan Bajju, Mallam Nuhu Bature who was one of the first guest to arrive at the venue, commended the women for their team work adding that their cooperation is worthy of emulation by all. The Chief Hostess of the event and wife of the Governor of Kaduna State, Her Excellency, Mrs. Amina Yakowa delivered a goodwill message. She was accompanied by a large entourage of accomplished women and wives of policy makers. In her speech, she commended the Interfaith Council for its peace building activities adding that women suffer more in during crises .She stressed that women who are mothers have the responsibility to inculcate the right values in their children. The First Lady noted that the post election violence was a sign of deterioration of values and a challenge we must confront.

The Mother of the Day was the wife of the Vice President, Her Excellency Hajiya Amina Sambo. She was ably represented by the wife of the Deputy Senate President, Mrs. Ike Ekweremadu. In her speech, she deplored the cases of violence recorded worldwide and congratulated the women for their vision and courage in undertaking peace building activities. She observed that women suffer more in crises situation because some are widowed, deprived of their sources of livelihood, raped and left on their own. Mrs Sambo said 40 communal conflicts were recorded in the country since 1999. About 800 people were killed and 33,000 displaced people were recorded in Kaduna State alone. She commended the government and the civil society organizations for their relief work. She frowned at manipulation of religion and underscored that fact that both Islam and Christianity preach peace, justice, love and forgiveness. She then declared the event open.

 

My humble self was invited to make a presentation. My paper was titled The Imperative of Women’s Participation in Interfaith Activities. The paper explored the various divides in our society; they include those between rich and poor, the leaders and the led, the old and the young, men and women, the capitalists and the socialists, politicians and non politicians. It identified interfaith dialogue is an important activity in a community with diversity embedded in its social and religious landscape. The divides have their origin in history, asymmetries of power, prejudice, stereotypes, bad governance, poverty, ignorance, envy, injustice, vested interests and elite manipulation– including religious leaders. Religion is the most common and effective platform for addressing the divides whatever their origin, because the majority of Nigerians are religious and they listen to what faith leaders tell them. Unfortunately for us the divide in Kaduna is a mix of several factors and the key divides are ethnic and socioeconomic and the religious dimension is only added to it to make mileage out of the crises.

The paper underscored the fact that Islam and Christianity are religions of peace and cited the various injunctions on peaceful co existence from the Quran and Bible. Given these injunctions from the two major religions, the paper urged Muslims and Christians to promote peace through interfaith dialogue and joint activities. They must stress our commonalities, being two of the Abrahamic religions.

The paper examined the role of women in peace and highlighted the fact that women constitute half of humanity and have a critical role to play in promoting peace at the interfaith level and outside it. The paper made observations and ended with recommendations. ‘Sustainable peace can only be achieved if we consider the following: The people of Kaduna must be ready for frank and truthful dialogue; hate promoters and preachers must be identified and disciplined according to the law of the land. The post election crisis is only a tip of the iceberg of poverty, youth unemployment, suppression of political dissent and bad governance that have compromised security and obstructed development.’

Government must make good governance a priority. The security lapses that enforced selective curfew in the state and made the genocide in southern Kaduna possible should be investigated. Perpetrators of the crimes should be identified and punished to serve as a deterrent to others. Government must bring an end to impunity. Those who lost relations and property should be compensated.

The Council can contribute to peace and building bridges of understanding by embarking on establishing a sustainable structure, designing and implementing grassroots peace building initiatives, networking with NIREC and other bodies to leverage resources, documenting and replicating best practices.

The two coordinators of the Interfaith Council Mrs Comfort Fearon and Hajiya Amina Kazaure made presentations on the aims and objectives of the Council. The Council comprise leaders and members of women’s faith groups in Kaduna consisting of both Muslims and Christians. The Council’s activities include promoting peace and understanding through inter religious dialogue, capacity building through workshops. Exploring women’s common concerns and working with the media to amplify peace messages.

(allafrica.com / 07.07.2011)

Huis VS: Geen wapens voor rebellen Libië

Het Amerikaanse Huis van Afgevaardigden heeft president Obama donderdag verboden wapens aan de rebellen in Libië te leveren. Het amendement op de defensiebegroting werd aangenomen met 225 stemmen voor en 201 tegen.

De Libiëoorlog is in de VS niet populair. Frankrijk daarentegen komt er openlijk voor uit wapens te leveren aan de opstandelingen tegen Muammar Kaddafi. Groot-Brittannië levert geen wapens, maar wel ander materieel zoals beschermende vesten.

(www.parool.nl / 07.07.2011)

Flotilla II 070711

Indicating the reasons for administrative reasons
Greece, Gaza, which set out the correct French kept his ship in Crete
Giritte cut off the French ship managed to escape the path of Greek territorial waters.

Palestinian Information Center [07/07/2011 – 11:19 AM]

Freedom Squadron-2 organizers, today (July 7, Thursday) In their statement, the Gaza Strip, which set out the correct order of the Government of Greece in Crete, retention of the French ship, he said.

Claude Leostic Organization spokesman, said in a statement to the media on the issue, “al-Kerami ship was taken to the port of Sitia of Crete by the Greek coast guard forces. Coast Guard forces, while blocked the fuel from a ship near the harbor,” he said.

Leostic, the Greek authorities did not encourage the movement of the ship said, citing administrative reasons.

19metre-long ship, the French extreme left leader Olivier Besancenot, and El-Kerame’de French Green Party MEP, including Nicole Kiil-Nielsen is one of twelve activists.

The Government of Greece, threatening to use force against the Freedom Flotilla-2, which bowed to pressure from the Zionist occupation regime in the Gaza Strip will move on to the ships ‘passengers’ safety of life protection “does not allow the plea since Friday.

Waiting for the ports of Greece to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza Freedom Flotilla-2, while the ships belonging to the Greek blockade, the day before the event took place and an escape into stunned everyone, the French boat in the fleet, “El-Kerami” Greek SAT commandos keep watch 24 hours a day Although Greece had managed to leave the territorial waters.

(Facebook / 07.07.2011)

Wat doet een Israelische politieke partij als Likoed Nederland in Nederland!!

Likoed Nederland is in 1990 – met onder meer de Federatie Nederlandse Zionisten – ontstaan uit de Nederlandse Zionistenbond. Die is in 1899 opgericht om het zionisme in Nederland te bevorderen.

De doelstellingen van Likoed Nederland zijn:

  1. Het propageren en verwezenlijken van de doelstellingen van de Likoed wereldorganisatie (Likud Olami).

    De belangrijkste is: vrede én veiligheid voor Israël.

  2. Het verwezenlijken van de doelstellingen van het zionisme. Op het oprichtingscongres van de Wereld Zionisten Organisatie in 1897 te Bazel is dat als volgt gedefinieerd: “Het zionisme streeft naar een publiekrechtelijke gewaarborgde eigen woonplaats voor het Joodse volk in Palestina.”Later is dat uitgewerkt in het zogenaamde ‘Jeruzalemmer Programma’ van zionisme, dat stelt dat het zionisme streeft naar:
    • de eenheid van het joodse volk en het centraal stellen van Israël in het Joodse leven,
    • het verzamelen van het Joodse volk in zijn historisch vaderland – Erets Jisraeel – door alijah (immigratie) uit alle landen,
    • het versterken van de staat Israël, welke gegrondvest is op de profetische visie van rechtvaardigheid en vrede,
    • het bewaren van de identiteit van het joodse volk door het bevorderen van Joodse en Hebreeuwse opvoeding en van Joodse geestelijke en culturele waarden,
    • de bescherming van Joodse rechten waar ook ter wereld.

Activiteiten

Likoed Nederland houdt zich bezig met het kenbaar maken van onze politieke ideeën middels:

  • het publiceren in de Nederlandse pers, op radio en televisie,
  • het stelling nemen tegen foutieve berichtgeving over Israel en de Likoed in de media en elders,
  • het onderhouden van contacten met de Nederlandse politiek,
  • het organiseren van voordrachten,
  • het medebesturen van de Federatie Nederlandse Zionisten,
  • het vertegenwoordigen van joods Nederland in de Wereld Zionisten Organisatie en in de Likoed Wereld Organisatie (Likud Olami),
  • deze internet-site, die onze politieke ideeen wil presenteren en die aandacht wil vragen voor het tegen Joden en Israel gerichte Arabisch extremisme.

Likoed Nederland is aangesloten bij:

  • Federatie Nederlandse Zionisten, een overkoepelend orgaan voor zionistische organisaties in Nederland.

    Hierbij zijn verder aangesloten:

    • Arza (liberaal-religieuze zionisten),
    • BONZ, Bond van Onafhankelijke Zionisten,
    • Mizrachi (orthodox-joodse zionisten),
    • Poale Zion (progressieve zionisten),
    • Bne Akiwa (orthodox-joodse zionistische jeugdvereniging),
    • Haboniem (socialistische zionistische jeugdvereniging),
    • Ijar (zionistische jongerenvereniging),
    • Stichting Tarboet (iwriet onderwijs),
  • Likud Olami (Likoed Wereld Organisatie),
  • World Zionist Organisation. (Wereld Zionisten Organistie)

(Facebook / JJ /07.07.2011)

56 Belgen vertrekken richting Palestina

56 Belgen van de missie ‘Welcome to Palestine’ vertrekken op uitnodiging van Palestijnse organisaties vrijdag naar Tel Aviv. Ze maken deel uit van een internationale delegatie van 600 personen. Bij aankomst zullen ze verklaren dat ze Palestina willen bezoeken. Met deze actie willen ze de onrechtvaardige situatie in Palestina aanklagen.
  • DeWereldMorgen.be -

Als ze Palestina bereiken, zullen ze participeren in initiatieven en uitwisselingsprojecten van de uitnodigende organisaties. Jan Dreezen, een van de organisatoren van de Belgische delegatie, onderstreept dat het geen humanitaire missie is. “Ons doel en onze eisen zijn politiek,” aldus Dreezen. “Wij eisen de vrije toegang van bezoekers aan Palestina.”

De reacties van Israël op de plannen doen vermoeden dat het onwaarschijnlijk is dat ze doorgelaten zullen worden door de Israëlische douane. Bij aankomst moet je een document ondertekenen waarin je toezegt Palestina niet te bezoeken. Maar de organisatie is vastbesloten. “We zullen niet zomaar vrijwillig het land weer verlaten als dat geëist wordt door de Israëliërs. We hebben in België een flinke achterban van maatschappelijk prominente figuren en bij problemen zullen we deze mensen mobiliseren om druk uit te oefenen. We zullen alle mogelijke pacifistische middelen aanwenden om ons doel te bereiken,” vertelt Jan Dreezen.

Ook al heb je de juiste documenten, dan nog is er geen garantie dat je Israël binnen zult komen. Een visum kan pas verkregen worden bij aankomst in Tel Aviv. Op de persconferentie getuigden Elise en Rachida, twee Belgische jonge vrouwen die vorige week Israël hebben bezocht om inwoners van Palestina te bezoeken. Ze zijn bij aankomst in Tel Aviv aangehouden om onduidelijke redenen, en zijn 17 uur lang vastgehouden in een kleine cel zonder eten en zonder contact met het thuisfront. Uiteindelijk werden ze teruggestuurd naar België.

Een aantal deelnemers kwamen tijdens de conferentie aan het woord. Stuk voor stuk zijn ze aangegrepen door het Palestijnse probleem en voelen zich verplicht om hun stem te laten horen. De laatste berichten vanuit Israël zijn zeer negatief over de actie. Israël bestempelt de actie als terroristisch, ondanks de duidelijke pacifistische profilering van de missie.

(www.dewereldmorgen.be /  07.07.2011)

The Moroccan Connection: The Secret Relationship Between Israel and Morocco

Segev’s book is a revealing account of the secret Israeli-Moroccan relationship. While publicly Morocco is part of the Arab world, which is largely hostile to Israel; underneath, the two are allies. The book details how the Mossad and the Moroccans begun cooperating just a few years after Morocco gained independence. The relationship evolved when the Mossad’s secret efforts to arrange for Jewsih immigration from Morocco to Israel run into problems and Israel decided to be more open with the Moroccans about immigration. In the 1960’s the relationship were expended. Both countries exchanged intelligence information about their mutual enemies: Algeria and Egypt. In the mid 1960’ it was suggested that Israel helped Morocco to assassinate Morocco’s opposition leader, Ben Barake. Segev argues that Israel had only a minor role there. The 1970’s saw a new and expanded relationship. King Hasan 2, had become a major player in brokering Arab-Israeli peace. He was host to a secret Egyptian-Israeli meeting in 1977 between General Moshe Dayan, Israel’s foreign Minister, and Hasan Tohami a top advisor top Egyptian President Sadat. The meeting paved the way to Sadat’s surprise visit to Jerusalem in November 1977, which led to the Israeli-Egyptian peace process. In the 1980’s the relationship were advanced due to internal developments in Israel: The rise of Israeli Moroccan Jews to power there. SDome of them, most notably former Minister Raphi Edri, had become an important bridge between the two nations. In the 1990’s Hasan was again central in assisting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Segev concludes the book with a brief discussion of the new king, Muhammad VI, who still supports the relationship, but takes less of a public posture on the matter.
Published: March 24, 2008

(www.shvoong.com / 07.07.2011)

Israeli checkpoints kill women in childbirth, says new study

An infant is transferred into an ambulance at Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and East Jerusalem; Palestinian ambulances are prevented from freedom of travel.

LONDON (IRIN) – For three years now a United Kingdom medical journal The Lancet has been working with Palestinian health professionals and researchers to document the effects of stressful living — coping with economic difficulties and shortages, restrictions on movement, political tensions and fear of outside attack — and has just published its latest findings.

Restrictions on movement are an everyday irritant in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Apart from tedious and humiliating searches at checkpoints, residents never know for sure how long their journeys will take or whether they can be made at all. But in a medical emergency these restrictions can be a matter of life or death.

Last year The Lancet’s collaborators described vividly the terror of women waiting to give birth during Israeli bombing raids on Gaza in early 2009. These women knew they might need urgent medical care at a time when they were trapped in their homes during the attacks. This year another one of their researchers has looked at what happens to women already in labor who are caught at Israeli checkpoints.

A crime against humanity

Halla Shoaibi of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the United States estimates that in the period she studied (2000-2007), 10 percent of pregnant Palestinian women were delayed at checkpoints while travelling to hospital to give birth. One result has been a dramatic increase in the number of home births, with women preferring to avoid road trips while in labor for fear of not being able to reach the hospital in time.

Their fears are well-founded. Shoaibi said 69 babies were born at checkpoints during those seven years. Thirty-five babies and five of the mothers died, an outcome which she considered to amount to a crime against humanity.

When The Lancet group held its first meeting in March 2009, Gaza was still reeling from the Israeli attacks dubbed Operation Cast Lead, which led to the deaths of more than 1,400 persons. In the latest publication, researchers returned to that period, with further analysis of survey material about the effects of the attack on the civilian population.

The disruption to normal life was great. Forty-five percent of those surveyed had to leave their homes and move in with other people for at least 24 hours; 48 percent had other people moving in with them; 48 percent of homes were damaged. Nearly everyone had power cuts all or part of the time and many also suffered disruption to other services — telephone, water supply and rubbish collection.

Screaming and nightmares

In terms of psychological effects, more than 80 percent reported a family member screaming or crying or having nightmares. Loss of appetite was also commonly reported. But although Gaza is a relatively small area, the effects varied considerably according to where the respondents lived, with the governorates of Gaza and north Gaza the most and Khan Younis and Rafah (near the border with Egypt) the least affected.

Another study looked at the feelings of insecurity which remained, even six months after the end of the attacks. Some of the results might have been expected — women, for instance, felt more nervous and insecure than men. The groups who reported lower levels of insecurity were those who were better educated and had a better standard of living and also older people, those over 65.

Not all the studies published were directly linked to the Palestinian political situation; topics include smoking among teenagers, the number of pharmacists working in the territories (rather high, as it turns out) and the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine.

The Lancet’s editor Richard Horton stressed the importance of encouraging academic research into all aspects of health, as part of the process of rebuilding Palestinian society and strengthening its academic institutions.

He said that he saw two immediate priorities. “First, while the collaboration between scientists in Gaza and their colleagues in the West Bank is encouraging, even more effort needs to be invested to create productive alliances between Palestinian academic institutions. And second, while there is much strength in public health research, there is a gap in the clinical sciences. More attention needs to be paid to strengthening research in the many excellent clinical facilities in the region.”