Livestock markets across Palestine are in the midst of one of their busiest times of the year in the lead-up to the muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Following religious practice, families who are in a financial position to do so should sacrifice an animal during the feast. This act symbolises the willingness of the Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) to sacrifice his son, Ishmael (Ismael), in accordance with God’s will.
Although normally open only twice weekly, livestock markets open daily in the week leading up to Eid al-Adha in order to meet high demands. Most commonly, sheep or goats are slaughtered in Palestine, whilst in some other countries cows or camels are often preferred.
A short walk from the livestock market in al-Bireh leads in to ‘Area C’ of the Oslo Accords which is under full civil and military control of the Occupation. ‘Area C’ accounts for more than 60% of the West Bank and also the vast majority of the area’s farm land, and thus Israeli control over the area reduces the effectiveness of the Palestinian agricultural sector hugely. Settlement construction is a major contributor to this issue although is far from unique in its devastation of Palestinian land. Israeli military firing zones, assorted movement restrictions, construction and development denial and demolition, and the denial of basic services and infrastructure all play huge roles in the destruction of the agricultural sector.
Despite the oppressive restrictions the Israeli Occupation places on the agricultural sector, even before the sun has fully risen farmers from villages across the Ramallah district begin transporting their animals to the market in al-Bireh. The warm morning air is alive with the sound of various animals overplayed only by sometimes quite heated price negotiations.