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Palestinians mark Eid al-Adha amid new closures and rising pandemic

Jerusalem (QNN) – Palestinians joined Muslims around the world in celebrating the Eid al-Adha holidays on Friday, the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated each year. Tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem for Eid prayers in the morning — with each worshiper required to wear a mask and bring their own prayer rug.

Eid al-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God. The holiday is celebrated with prayers, family gatherings, and most importantly, the sacrifice of an animal (typically goat, lamb, or cow) for those who can afford it.

This year, however, Eid celebrations were noticeably different. Shops and stores in the West Bank were shuttered, following orders by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to enforce a three-day lockdown over the weekend in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus over the holiday. Slaughterhouses and butchers, typically crowded in the week leading up to Eid, noticed a decline in customers as many Palestinians this year can’t afford to sacrifice a sheep, which can reach upwards of $500 depending on its size. With many people out of work due to COVID-19, local officials are expecting a 20% decrease in the purchase of sacrificial sheep and goats this year.

According to the World Health Organization, since July 1 the average daily number of new cases of COVID-19 in the Palestinian territory has been 402. Since mid-July, the overall number of cases has doubled, and within this period there have been at least 37 new deaths.

Travel between Palestinian governorates has been banned in an attempt to keep the outbreak in Hebron contained, which seems largely to have been effective although we are still seeing the numbers climb inside of Hebron.

Social gatherings like weddings and funerals are still prohibited, save for outdoor religious prayers for the Eid holiday. Prayers are capped at 15 minutes and which is already proving difficult to enforce.

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