Palestinian worshippers gather on April 10, 2024 in the courtyard of Gaza City's historic Omari Mosque, which has been heavily damaged in Israeli bombardment during the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas, on the first day of Eid Al Fitr. Image Credit: AFP

GAZA: Palestinians visited the graves of loved ones killed in the Gaza war and prayed beside the wreckage of a mosque and in shattered streets as the devastating conflict cast a pall over the Eid Al Fitr holiday.

Millions of Muslims around the world are observing Eid, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, with festivities, feasts and family gatherings.

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But few in Gaza can take solace from this special time for Muslims. After six months of war, their focus is on surviving Israeli air strikes, shelling, a ground offensive and a humanitarian crisis.

Amany Mansour and her mother stood at her young son’s grave, recalling happier times. She said the last Eid was the best one of her life.

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“My son was beside me, in my arms, getting him ready. Everything he wanted I did for him,” she said.

“I wish he was here with me. He would go to the mosque in the morning and say to me ‘prepare my present for when I return’. Gone. Everything good about my life is gone.”

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Palestinians offer morning prayer outside a destroyed mosque in Rafah. Image Credit: AFP


During better times, people like Mahmoud Al Hamaydeh in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah would gather with family and friends for festivities and big meals during the Eid holiday.

“This day, for me, is heartbreaking, compared to last Eid. I look at my children and I feel heartbroken. When I sit with them and I start to cry, feeling sad for the days that have passed,” said Hamaydeh, who is now pushed in a wheelchair after being wounded by the Israeli military.

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Displaced Palestinians attend morning prayer at a school-turned-shelter in Rafah. Image Credit: AFP

“I remember last Eid and I remember this Eid. Last Eid, I was surrounded by my children, looking at them with joy. But today I am injured, unable to move or go anywhere.”

Instead, he endures Israeli airstrikes that have turned much of Gaza, a densely-populated Hamas-run enclave, into rows of rubble and dust.

Father-of-four Ahmed Qishta, 33, told AFP there was little to celebrate at what should be a joyous time.

A Palestinian takes a selfie with family members on April 10, 2024 in the courtyard of Gaza City's historic Omari Mosque. Image Credit: AFP

“We prepared sweets and biscuits from the aid we got from the UN and now we are giving it to the children. We try to be happy but it is difficult.”

He said they went to pray at the graves of family members killed in the war before going to the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque for Eid prayers.

There has never been “such an Eid - all sadness, fear, destruction and a grinding war,” he said.

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A woman gives money to displaced children. Image Credit: AFP

Abir Sakik, 40, who fled her home in Gaza City with her family and is now living in a tent in Rafah, said she had no “ingredients for the cakes and sweets” she would usually make.

Instead she made cakes from crushed dates. “We want to rejoice despite all the blood, death and shelling,” she told AFP.


Sakik said that despite it being a religious holiday, the Israeli military “committed a massacre and killed women and children” in the camp.

“We are tired and weary - enough, enough of war and destruction,” she said, adding that Gazans were desperate for a truce.

“We try to bring joy to the children. Before all this, there was a great atmosphere at Eid with the children’s toys, the Eid cakes, the food, the chocolates in every house - everything was sweet and beautiful.

“But they destroyed all of Gaza,” she said.

Rafah resident Moaz Abu Moussa said that “despite the pain and massacres, we will show our happiness in these difficult circumstances”.

“We don’t care about the war, we will live Eid like other Muslims and show our happiness to the displaced people and families of martyrs and detainees.”

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Tens of thousands of worshippers poured into Al Aqsa mosque compound for Eid morning prayers. Image Credit: Reuters

Meanwhile in Jerusalem tens of thousands of worshippers poured into the Al Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, for morning prayers.

“It’s the saddest Eid ever,” said nurse Rawan Abd, 32, from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. “At the mosque you could see the sadness on people’s faces.”

In the occupied West Bank, the atmosphere was even more sombre, with many Palestinians in the flashpoint northern city of Jenin visiting its cemetery to pray for those who have been killed since the Gaza war began.

The war erupted on October 7 when the Palestinian Islamist group burst across the border and rampaged in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel responded with ferocious air strikes and a ground invasion which has killed over 33,000 Palestinians, wounded more than 75,000 and created a humanitarian crisis.

Most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people are homeless.

Hospitals have been destroyed, medicine is in short supply and many Gazans are at risk of famine.

A drone view shows Palestinians holding Eid prayers by the ruins of Al Farouk mosque. Image Credit: Reuters

As Palestinians look around the Gaza Strip, there is little to celebrate. Israel has said it will keep up the military pressure until it destroys Hamas.

Children played among the crushed cement and twisted medal left by airstrikes, near the ruins of Rafah’s Al Farouk mosque that was struck in an Israeli attack.

Another resident, Abu Shaer, called on his fellow Muslims to try to draw some strength from the Eid holiday.

“Despite the great feeling of pain and the continuous Zionist killing during the last six months of our lives, we must show joy on this day,” he said.

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Muslims gather at Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem's Old City on April 10, 2024. Image Credit: Reuters


Worshippers knelt in the street next to the wreckage of the the mosque, laying out their prayer mats in the shadow of a white minaret, still standing amid the otherwise flattened building.

More than one million people are crammed into Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, having fled bombardments of their homes further north.

It is the last relatively safe place in Gaza. But Israel has repeatedly flagged plans to assault Rafah to destroy remaining battalions of Hamas.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, where many have lived through war and sectarian bloodshed, Muslims prayed for an end to the war.

“We turn to God asking for a near relief and victory for our brothers in Palestine,” said Omar Nizar Karim in Iraq’s capital Baghdad.

“This is a message we are sending today from this blessed place to our people in Gaza and to our people in Palestine.” In Jordan, pro-Palestinians gathered near the Israeli embassy in Amman to show their solidarity with Gaza’s people.

“The title of the protest today is ‘There is no Eid while Gaza is annihilated’,” said Abdel Majid Rantisi. “Our Eid is on the day of the victory of the resistance, the victory of Gaza.”