One year after Israel's bombing of Gaza, families of the bereaved are deprived Eid al-Fitr festivities

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3 min read
04 May, 2022
After Israel's 11-day assault of Gaza during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr last year, customary festivities are a painful reminder for the dozens of Gazan families who lost loved ones. The New Arab speaks with two survivors about how they have coped.

Throughout Eid al-Fitr, the streets of Gaza are filled with joyous celebrations as friends and family congratulate each other having observed the month of Ramadan. 

This feeling of appreciation is especially palpable in Gaza this year, one year after Israel's 11-day military campaign in the Gaza strip.

Israel's onslaught saw hundreds of air raids carried out by Israeli warplanes, leading to the deaths of 256 Gazans, and 19 entire families. 

"10 members of my extended family, including my wife and four of my children were killed. My sister and her four killed were also killed"

This year, dozens of local residents remember their lost loved ones.

The family of Alaa Abu Hatab, 40, was among some of those killed by Israeli military jets on the second day of Eid al-Fitr last year after their house in the Shati refugee camp was targeted. Abu Hatab and his child were the only survivors of the Israeli massacre. 

Alaa told The New Arab that he left his family's house after midnight to buy necessities, shortly after he heard huge explosions hitting his home. At first, Alaa believed that the bombing had hit a nearby building, but having arrived back into the area, his heart sank.

“The Israeli army did not warn us before bombing our house with six missiles," Alaa said.

Eid festivities muted for Gazan survivors of Israeli attacks
Palestinians attend the funeral of the Abu Hatab family in Gaza City [Getty Images]

"10 members of my extended family, including my wife and four of my children were killed. My sister and her four killed were also killed," Alaa said with a breaking voice. 

While other parents dress their children in customary Eid clothes on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, Alaa is filled with sorrow. Eid now represents what he has lost, and brings back painful memories of his trauma. 

This year, after the Eid prayer, Alaa visited the cemetery where his family is now buried, spending long hours next to their graves. "How can I spend my Eid feeling happy while my family is buried next to each other in narrow graves, what did they do to deserve this end?". 

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Hassan al-Attar, a firefighter from Beit Lahia in the northernmost part of the Gaza Strip, has a tragically similar experience to Alaa. Hassan lost his daughter Lamia, 27, and three of her children after their home was targeted. 

Like Alaa, Hassan spent the first hours of Eid sitting next to the graves of his daughter and grandchildren in grief. "I used to visit my daughters in their homes to celebrate Eid, but Israel has robbed me of everything, they killed my daughter without guilt", Hassan told The New Arab

"I was at work when I was told that area had been hit. In my wildest nightmares, I didn't think it would have been my daughter's house. When I arrived, the house was completely destroyed. After a long, painful search, I found myself looking at my daughter's body", Hassan told The New Arab, holding back tears. 

As Eid al-Fitr concludes, we must remember those afflicted by occupation, war and famine. Whilst it is, of course, a time of celebration, it is also a time of reflection on what we have, and why it is important to us. 

Sally Ibrahim is The New Arab's correspondent from Gaza