Gazans mark Eid Al Adha amid ruins of war

Recovering from a 50-day conflict with Israel that ended with a truce on August 26, Gazans mark holiday with prayers and visits to the graves of relatives.

A Palestinian woman holds a child as she pays her respects at a relative's grave in a cemetery in Gaza City on Saturday. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo
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GAZA CITY // Surrounded by the rubble of a war with Israel, Gazans marked Eid Al Adha on Saturday with prayers and visits to the graves of relatives.

Thabet Al Hamami pitched a tent by the ruins of his home, one of 60,000 totally or partially destroyed by Israeli strikes during the recent conflict, and offered sweets to relatives and friends.

“We will celebrate the feast, no matter what,” his son Naeem said.

The 50-day war that ended with a truce on August 26 killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, most of whom were soldiers.

It left more than 100,000 Palestinians homeless.

In the district of Shujaieh, where entire apartment blocks were flattened in some of the heaviest bombardments of the conflict, children gathered around a butcher slaughtering a sheep.

But only two sheep and a cow were available, donated by a charity. The meat will be distributed to the poorest residents of the coastal enclave.

The sacrifice of sheep or other animals for Eid is a re-enactment of the story of Abraham, who was prepared to fulfil God’s command to sacrifice his own son.

“We don’t feel the holiday but we are trying to bring some joy into the hearts of the children of our martyrs,” said Mohammed Sukkar, as he handed out dates and coffee to well-wishers.

Early in the day, thousands of Gazans headed to mosques for Eid prayers before going to cemeteries to pray for their dead.

Nine-year-old Majd Dahduh clutched a bouquet of flowers as he knelt by the grave of his father at the Sheikh Radwan Martyrs Cemetery and said softly: “Happy Eid, father.

“He used to bring us presents for the Eid and we used to go with him to the mosque to pray. Now he is in heaven,” he said, sobbing.

His father, Shaaban Dahduh, was a top commander of the Islamic Jihad group who was killed in an Israeli attack that targeted an eight-storey apartment bloc.

“He meant everything for us and we are proud of him,” said his widow.

Former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya also delivered a speech to mark Eid stressing the need to rebuild.

He pledged Hamas “will continue to bolster and develop its resistance until the land has been liberated”.

* Agence France-Presse