Gaza City – The auspicious occasion of Eid was a joyless one for the people of Gaza.
Izzddin Akila too wanted to celebrate first day of Eid al-Fitr just like the other Muslims around the world. But the 35-year-old’s wishes – to exchange gifts, visit relatives, and watch the children of the family play games – didn’t go as planned.
Holding brown prayer beads and white flowers, he instead spent the first day of the three-day holiday digging a small hole in which to put flowers at the head of his 20-year-old cousin Mohammed’s grave.
“You have always been the moonlight and inspiration to your brothers,” said Izzddin, sitting beside the grave.
“Come back Mohammed, return to your weeping mother, she has your Eid gift,” another cousin cried, as people tried to comfort him. There wasn’t a dry eye at the grave site.
Mohammed was killed last week when an Israeli tank shell hit his home. He was sitting in the family’s living room. The blast also injured his aunt’s husband, and eight children. “In one second, an Israel missile ended his short 20 years of life,” said Izzddin, unable to hold back tears.
Before he died, Mohammed and his father had opened their home to displaced Palestinians fleeing Israeli bombings in Shujayea. They shared food and drinks with women and children who had been driven out of their homes.
“He hadn’t planned his future yet, but was intelligent and keen and had already managed to memorize the whole Quran, verse by verse,” Izzddin cried, as his fingers moved across the sand on top of Mohammed’s grave.