Palestinians in Gaza can’t even mark their holy days

Gaza journalist and teacher Rami Almeghari – his work perfectly captures the day to day toughness of life in the Strip – explains the reality of this year’s Muslim holiday of Eid:

Daoud Suleiman Ahmad, 48, an unemployed construction worker, has been unable to find work for almost three years due to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Life for Ahmad and his family in the al-Maghazi refugee camp has been desperately difficult, something that is particularly on his mind during the Eid.

”Over the past three years, I have felt a great deal of bitterness inside me as I have been unable to follow the rituals of the Eid al-Adha, as well as [meet] other daily basic expenses of my family,” Ahmad said at his home, surrounded by two of his children, daughter Rawan (11) and son Ahmad (9).

The house built by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, a few years ago, consists of three rooms: one for Ahmad and his wife, and the other two shared by all the children.

Before the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, Ahmad was among thousands of laborers who used to cross into Israel. But Israel shut out workers from Gaza, and then imposed a siege that has made it all but impossible for Ahmad to earn a living. Hours before being interviewed, Ahmad said he had quarreled with one of his sons who studies nursing. “I couldn’t afford to give him 10 shekels [three dollars] for his transportation, can you imagine?”

These daily hardships make it difficult to fulfill the social obligations of Eid. “I have two sisters who live 20 kilometers away in southern Gaza,” Ahmad explained. “Even if I wanted to visit them for Eid, I couldn’t because I cannot afford to bring with me some lamb meat or other gifts.” Because he would not want to visit family members empty-handed, Ahmad did not visit his sisters on Eid in recent years and probably will not do so this year.

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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