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World

‘No joy’: Gazans mark sombre Eid in shadow of war

  • Many gather for Eid al-Adha morning prayer in courtyard of Gaza City’s historic Omari Mosque, which was heavily damaged in Israeli bombardment, placing down their frayed prayer mats next to mounds of rubble
Published June 16, 2024
Palestinians hold Eid al-Adha prayers by the ruins of ar-Rahma Mosque destroyed by Israeli air strikes in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 16, 2024. Photo: Reuters
Palestinians hold Eid al-Adha prayers by the ruins of ar-Rahma Mosque destroyed by Israeli air strikes in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 16, 2024. Photo: Reuters

GAZA STRIP: In tents in the stifling heat and in bombed-out mosques, Gazans marked on Sunday the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, devoid of the usual cheer as Israeli aggression continued in Gaza.

“There is no joy. We have been robbed of it,” said Malakiya Salman, a 57-year-old displaced woman, now living in a tent in Khan Yunis city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Gazans, like Muslims the world over, would usually slaughter sheep for the holiday – whose Arabic name means “feast of the sacrifice” – and share the meat with the needy.

Parents would also gift children new clothes and money in celebration.

But this year, after more than eight months of a devastating Israeli campaign that has flattened much of Gaza, displaced most of the besieged territory’s 2.4 million people and sparked repeated warnings of famine, the Eid is a day of misery for many.

“I hope the world will put pressure to end the war on us, because we are truly dying, and our children are broken,” said Salman.

Her family was displaced from the far-southern city of Rafah, a recent focus of Israeli aggression.

The military on Sunday morning announced a “tactical pause of military activity” around a Rafah-area route to facilitate the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gazans.

AFP correspondents said there were no reports of strikes or shelling since dawn, though the Israeli military stressed there was “no cessation of hostilities in the southern Gaza Strip”.

Hajj pilgrims ‘stone the devil’ as Muslims mark Eid al-Adha

The brief respite in fighting allowed worshippers a rare moment of calm on the holiday, which honours the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son before God offered a sheep instead.

‘Strange’ silence

Many gathered for the Eid al-Adha morning prayer in the courtyard of Gaza City’s historic Omari Mosque, which was heavily damaged in Israeli bombardment, placing down their frayed prayer mats next to mounds of rubble.

The sound of prayers travelled down some of the city’s destroyed and abandoned streets.

“Since this morning, we’ve felt a sudden calm with no gunfire or bombings… It’s strange,” said 30-year-old Haitham al-Ghura from Gaza City.

He said he hoped that the pause meant a permanent ceasefire was near, though truce mediation efforts have stalled for months.

In several areas of the war-battered territory, especially in Gaza City, young boys were seen manning roadside shops selling perfumes, lotions and other items against the backdrop of piles of rubble from destroyed buildings and homes.

Israeli army announces ‘tactical pause’ in part of southern Gaza

Many vendors used umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching sun as they sold household items on Gaza City’s main market street. But there were few buyers.

For many, a halt in Israeli aggression can never bring back what has been lost.

Israel’s offensive has killed at least 37,296 people in Gaza since October 7 last year, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

‘Comfort’

“We’ve lost many people, there’s a lot of destruction,” said Umm Muhammad al-Katri from Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

“This Eid is completely different,” she said, with many Gazans forced to spend the holiday without their loved ones killed or displaced during the war.

Saudi warns of above-average heat during the Hajj

Grieving families on Sunday flocked to cemeteries and other makeshift burial sites, where wooden planks marked the graves.

“I feel comfort here,” said Khalil Diab Essbiah at the cemetary where his two children are buried Even with the constant buzzing of Israeli drones overhead, visitors at the cemetery “can feel relieved of the genocide we are in and the death and destruction,” he said.

Hanaa Abu Jazar, 11, also displaced from Rafah to the tent city in Khan Yunis, said: “We see the (Israeli) occupation killing children, women and the elderly.”

Comments

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test Jun 16, 2024 06:34pm
Never shake a hand with jew. Never trust a jew. And shame on the muslim leaders around the world. I never wanted to visit any western or american country or any gulf county they are equally criminals.
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