Muslims in Gaza struggle to celebrate Eid as Israel-Hamas conflict continues
- POSTED: 31 Jul 2014 20:53
As the conflict between Hamas and Israel enters its fourth week, the numbers of Palestinians killed continues to climb. International pressure for a ceasefire is mounting, but in the meantime, Muslims in Gaza did their best to celebrate the holy festival of Eid in the middle of a brutal war.
GAZA: A year ago, Muslims in Gaza marked the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan with traditional feasting and family celebrations. Eid al-Fitr is usually one of Islam's most joyful holidays - but this year, the joy has been replaced with mourning.
Ongoing Israeli airstrikes have left more than one thousand people dead and wounded - many of them civilians.
Ayman Samara's son was one of them. The 20-year-old was killed when a missile hit his home in Beit Hanoun in Northern Gaza. Now, instead of celebrating Eid with his son, his father reads the Qur'an at his grave. Ayman said: "It's the Eid of martyrs. Everyone of us is feeling huge pain and hurt. We came to this graveyard to remember our beloved son... I say to him: 'rest in peace, may you enter paradise.'"
Ayman is not alone in feeling that the festival has been compromised by the conflict. Children are some of the worst affected - they comprise a fifth of Gaza's dead and those that survive often have lasting trauma.
Malak Hassanen, an 8-year-old child, said: "In Eid, I used to go to playgrounds, gardens, and buy sweets and help mum make cakes. But now, I don't feel the joy of Eid. Today I only visit graves."
Many of Gaza's 1.7 million-strong-population continue to shelter in UN schools and mosques. But even these places are not safe from harm - in the last week, two such schools have been hit.
Om Ahmad Sehweel, a mother of 14 kids, said: "We are displaced in this school, and each day, our kids die and we run from one school to another. Our children are always scared.. whenever they hear a shell or bomb, they start to scream and cry."
In Gaza, people are saying that Eid hasn't come this year - it has been postponed. But there are still those who fervently hope that out of the darkness of death and war a new dawn will rise.