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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Celebration of Eid al-Adha in Gaza overshadowed by ongoing war

GAZA, June 17, (Xinhua/GNA) — “If you ask anyone in Gaza what their (holiday) wish is, they will, without a second thought, say it’s for the war to stop and for life to return to how it was,” said Intisar, a displaced Palestinian woman on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.

Intisar was busy arranging a tent for the displaced on the beach of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, where the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict has shattered the joy and sweetness of the Eid al-Adha holiday, when the locals used to decorate homes and meet with families and friends. According to Islamic traditions, Muslim families buy cattle, usually a goat or sheep, as a sacrifice in the early morning of Eid al-Adha and distribute the meat to the poor as a charity gift. “Overnight, we have become displaced people who have no hope of surviving this deadly war,” her husband Samer Awad told Xinhua, recalling recurrent Israeli strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza.

The conflict and massive strikes on the Gaza Strip have brought heavy losses to civilian lives and properties, and forced 1.9 million into internal displacement since October 2023, according to figures released by the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator. “On this day last year, my children were busy wearing new clothes and playing with their friends,” the 45-year-old man lamented.

This year, instead, due to the war in Gaza, they have to wait in a long queue to collect fresh water, the father of seven lamented about the grueling hardship in Gaza, where the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has lasted for more than eight months.

Children in the war-torn Palestinian enclave have to spend six to eight hours a day collecting water and food, often carrying heavy weights and walking long distances, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said. “Sweets have disappeared from my destroyed house. I don’t know if we will ever return to our living areas and rebuild our homes. They (the Israeli army) killed everything in our lives. They killed the hope in us,” Intisar said. Palestinians used to celebrate the holiday by decorating streets and alleys, slaughtering sacrificial animals, exchanging visits to offer greetings, and children and young people by visiting parks and playgrounds in the Strip with their families to have fun.

All the holiday rituals, however, were absent from the family of Ahmed Mansour, who was displaced from his home in Gaza City after October 2023. “I was not able to buy new clothes for my children and we could not prepare the cakes. In short, this holiday came without joy,” the 35-year-old father of three told Xinhua.

Israel has been launching a large-scale war on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, 2023, after Hamas carried out a military attack on Israeli towns near the Strip, killing about 1,200 and capturing around 250 others.Nevertheless, Mansour’s children chanted “Eid had come” among the sheltering tents through loudspeakers and sang songs to bring comfort and happiness to the displaced Palestinian families.

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