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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Poverty kills Muslim feast happiness in Gaza

Um Ibrahim Salah, a 42-year-old woman, can not buy all she needs for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of sacrifice, since her husband have been jobless for years.

"Prices double every year and most of the people are unemployed, " Salah said, who lives in the Jabaliya refugee camp of Gaza, one of the most densely populated spots in the world.
The mother spent most of the money buying sweets, nuts and shirts for her four sons. "I have no more money now to afford meat or more clothes for my kids," she added.
Muslims around the world will on Tuesday observe the Eid al- Adha which marks the most important Islamic Holy holidays.
Markets in Gaza this year have witnessed great amount of goods, however sellers said the deteriorating financial conditions of the people in Gaza have resulted in poor shopping ahead of the feast.
"As you can see, the market is full of people but few of them are buying or selling," said Ahmed Jojo, a young vendor of sweets and candies in Gaza City. "Maybe the political parties have contributed candies to the families across the Gaza," he added.
According to international nongovernmental organizations (NGO), poverty in the Gaza Strip has hit more than 70 percent of the 1.5 million residents, as the majority of the population mainly depends on food aid offered by the United Nations and its humanitarian aid agencies.
Though Israel relaxed its blockade in July, which had been severely tightened in 2007 since Hamas seized the strip' control, job opportunities did not increase in the coastal enclave and the residents cannot import everything they want from aboard through Israel.
Traditionally, Muslims buy sacrificial animals for the Feast, but apparently the siege and the declining financial conditions forced the Gaza people to spend less money on livestock for sacrifice. What's more, gifts to female relatives and children also increase the expenses during the four-day Eid.
"The Eid has turned to be a burden as it has been almost impossible to save money," Um Ibrahim said, as she gave a hawker a handful of shekels for a pack of Egyptian-made candies smuggled via tunnels between Egypt and Gaza.

Source: Xinhuanet

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