Palestinians mark Eid al-Adha amid COVID-19 restrictions

Palestinians of the West Bank have began the celebration of Eid al-Adha amid strict measures imposed by the government to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Palestinian authorities announced a full lockdown from Friday to Sunday morning on the West Bank, as transportation between towns and villages are banned during that period of time.

In the early morning of Friday, hundreds of worshipers flocked to the Qalandia Camp Stadium to perform the Eid prayer. The public prayers are required to bring their own prayer rugs, wear facemasks and adhere to social distancing.

Jihad Abu Latifa, a member of the support committee to fight coronavirus in Qalandia, said, “Our role is not limited to monitoring the worshippers and making sure they observe the government’s instructions, we are also responsible of educating the people on how to behave to block the spread of the virus.”

Zakareia Abu Faiala, a senior official of the Fatah movement, told Xinhua the primary tasks of the support teams were to implement all governmental instructions, including a ban on weddings and mourning tents, and make sure all citizens stay at home during the night curfews.

After the Eid prayer ended, the Palestinians flocked to the slaughterhouses to sacrifice sheep and other animals and distribute the meat to needy families, friends and relatives, in accordance with the Islamic tradition.

“In such days, we are used to visit each other to celebrate our holy festival, but now we will not be able to do so due to the outbreak of the new virus in the West Bank,” Hilmi al-Barq from Qalandya told Xinhua, as he was slaughtering a sheep.

“We will provide the meat to the poor families in our neighborhood only,” the 45-year-old man said, adding that he congratulated his relatives by phone instead of visiting them.

After the end of the slaughtering sacrifices, streets that are usually busy remained deserted, with only the security forces patrolling the neighborhoods to make sure the public was adhering to the restrictions.

In the neighboring Gaza, the situation was different. Thousands of worshippers gathered in public places and mosques in the blockaded coastal enclave to perform the Eid prayer.

People also visited their relatives, while children went out on the streets to play.

Mohamed Hamid, a resident of Gaza city, told Xinhua that the atmosphere of Eid al-Adha in Gaza was normal, due to the low number of registered cases in that area.