Gaza blockade leads to decrease in Eid livestock sales
Published Wednesday 16/10/2013 (updated) 18/10/2013 14:37
Sheep pictured at a farm near Bethlehem. (MaanImages/Alexa Stevens)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Livestock sales in Gaza for the Eid al-Adha holiday decreased significantly this year due to high prices caused by Israel's blockade and a crack down on smuggling tunnels by Egyptian authorities, residents say.
Abu Faris al-Nijar, who sells livestock to be sacrificed every year for Eid al-Adha, told Ma'an that his sales had decreased by at least 40 percent.
The price of imported calves "soared this year," he added, "increasing between 18 and 21 shekels per kilo."
Gaza residents Jihan Ashour and Hamdi Faris told Ma'an that their families could not afford to purchase an animal to sacrifice this year due to the rise in prices.
"Closing the tunnels and the Israeli blockade has led to a problem of prices as our livestock came from Egypt through tunnels," Ashour said.
Living conditions would improve in Gaza if the blockade ended and the Rafah border with Egypt was opened, Ashour added.
Another resident, Abu Muhammad al-Habash, told Ma'an that notwithstanding the rise in prices, he felt religiously compelled to buy livestock for the sacrifice. He said he paid close to 2,140 shekels (approximately $600) for animals this year.
Livestock consumption on Eid al-Adha in the Gaza Strip ranges from 10,000 to 12,000 animals each year.
Meanwhile, over 200 residents in Gaza were injured on the first day of the Eid festival. Some were injured in stampedes of animals trying to escape, while others were wounded during the slaughtering process.
Eid al-Adha - the Feast of the Sacrifice - is one of the most important holidays in the Muslim calendar.
Muslims sacrifice a domestic animal, such as a sheep or goat, as a symbol of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail.
The meat is then divided into three parts for the family, friends and neighbors, and the poor.
The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2007.
The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.
After a July coup deposing president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's army has repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing with Gaza and destroyed hundreds of tunnels that Gazans used for years.
The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade by Israel beginning in 2007.