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One million Palestinians throng Iftar banquets

posted on 19/11/2003: 877 views

About one million Palestinians have thronged Iftar banquets since the start of the holy month of Ramadan. The banquets are held at the expense of President H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Crowds around Iftar meals normally peak during the last ten days of Ramadan, particularly on Lailatulqadr (Night of Power). "This great humanitarian scheme has achieved sound success and is part of gracious initiatives by the President to meet the needs of the poor and disabled whether inside the country or abroad," said Khalifa Nasser Al Swueidi, Chairman of the UAE Red Crescent Society (RCS).

He maintained that over one million Ramadan meals had been apportioned to Arab and Muslim countries this year, of which 300,000 meals were distributed in Palestine, 400,000 in Iraq and 300,000 inside the UAE as well as tens of thousands of banquets held in 40 other Arab and Muslim countries. In a telephone conversation with WAM, Sheikh Najeh Bekairat, deputy chairman of the UAE Friends Society in Jerusalem, said he expected that as many as 100,000 fasting Muslims to flock round the Iftar banquet of Lailatulqadr alone. He said the distribution of meals were run by 164 charity societies in Palestine.

For his part, Dr. Abdul Rahim Al Hanbali, head of the Zakat committee in Nablus, said that some 55 villages and four camps plus the town of Nablus itself were benefiting from the scheme. " Dwellers of Nablus and the surrounding villages and camps, under siege for more than three months, have benefited a lot from these banquets," Hanbali said. "The Ramadan banquet or the food basket given to a Palestinian family is of three sizes. A 10-dollar basket is for the small family, while a basket costing 20 US dollars is allotted to a medium family and a basket valued 30 dollars to a large family," he opined, adding that the RCS had earmarked US 40,000 dollars for the purchase and distribution of foodstuff in Nablus.

"Nowadays, special care is given to the students of Al Najah University in Nablus, who are stranded because of the siege of their home villages. About 1,000 meals are served to them daily," Hanbali disclosed. He said the Palestinian people valued highly Sheikh Zayed's gesture and thanked Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and RCS Chairman, for the special attention he gives to the needy Palestinians.

He said among the charitable schemes set up by the UAE philanthropists in Palestine were Sheikha Salama bint Butti ophthalmology hospital and Sheikh Khalifa centre for the disabled, which serves over 400 handicapped. Hanbali was specially grateful to Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the President, Chairperson of the General Women's Union and Honorary President of the RCS, for her benevolent overtures, saying the distribution of food parcels last year among the Palestinians was her brainchild.

In Jenin, 40 villages and camps are benefiting from the Ramadan scheme. Ahmed Salatna, director of the Zakat panel in Jenin, said the RCS had earmarked US 25,000 to the city. In Gaza Strip, 2,000 meals are distributed among the people, according to Yousuf Al Haddad, director of the UAE Friends Society, who said the number of meals had been increase to accommodate the growing number of fasting Muslims. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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