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‘Steadfast despite grief’: Palestinians in Gaza mark solemn Eid al-Fitr

As Israel’s war weighs heavily on them, many Palestinians do not feel joy this Eid but say they still have faith.


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Palestinians across the Gaza Strip are marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan with no respite from the Israeli military’s deadly attacks.


On Wednesday, the starving population in the besieged enclave was doing its best to follow Eid al-Fitr traditions, but the reality of the war that has killed more than 33,300 Palestinians, mostly women and children, does not leave much room for celebration.


“There is no joy or appetite for celebrating the holy occasion,” Ahmed Ismail, a shopkeeper in Rafah in southern Gaza, told Al Jazeera. “Even children have no interest in toys as they did in the past. This is the worst season we have ever lived.”


Jabr Hassan, a displaced man in Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering, said: “We are suffering on all fronts. People can hardly survive. They can hardly feed their families. We no longer think of Eid or celebrations or any other form of joy.”


Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum said people performed Eid prayers in Rafah even as Israeli military drones buzzed overhead to maintain a sense of insecurity.


“Still, Palestinians are here today performing the prayers of Eid al-Fitr as they have been gathering [and] congratulating each other despite the great deal of devastation, sadness and grief that surrounds them,” he reported from the southern city.


“One of the latest bloody and deadly attacks killed at least 14 Palestinians in the Nuseirat refugee camp, an entire family being targeted, the victims including children and women.”


‘We cannot abandon our homeland’

Many Palestinians observed their Eid prayers next to the ruins of the places where they had prayed last year.


Saleh al-Ames, a doctor from Gaza, said his neighbourhood mosque was destroyed by the Israeli military in February and saw many of its worshippers either killed, injured or displaced.


“However, we are holding our ground; steadfast to our rituals despite our deep pain and profound grief,” he told Al Jazeera. “The whole world is watching in silence … but we will … not abandon our homeland.”


Anas Mohammed, another Palestinian who prayed in the ruins of his mosque, said “We pray to God … to bring our plight to an end”, and for the world to come to its senses “to end this genocide”.


“We are the rightful owners of the land and we cannot abandon our homeland,” he told Al Jazeera.


Israeli military attacks have spared nothing in Gaza, repeatedly destroying or damaging mosques, hospitals, schools, residential buildings, internet infrastructure and roads, leaving at least 26 million tonnes of debris and rubble.


Displaced Palestinians perform Eid al-Fitr prayers next to their tents set up at the Rafah camp in the southern Gaza Strip near the Egyptian border [Haitham Imad/EPA-EFE]

Abu Omar, a displaced Palestinian, was marking Eid al-Fitr at a school that many are using as a shelter from Israeli bombardments.


“It is true our hearts are filled with pain, but this reminds us of the great sacrifices offered by our people: in blood and in property,” he said.


A Palestinian child said she felt no joy this year because her father could not buy her new clothes for Eid, and she could not play with her friends.


“I hope the war ends and we go back home. I hope we will be able to celebrate the coming Eids in new clothes, to gather with my extended family, friends and loved ones.”


Al Jazeera spoke to Palestinian musicians who are trying to bring some joy to children in Rafah. “We do our best to offer smiles, songs and activities,” said Musab al-Ghamri. “Eid is a day we can’t miss.”


“We want to bring joy to these children for the celebration of Eid, despite the bombing, fear and loss.”


 

(c) 2024, Al Jazeera

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