Muslims mark grim Eid in shadow of Israel-Palestinian crisis

Tensions have soared over Israel’s planned eviction of Palestinians from a district in annexed east Jerusalem

Muslims around the world marked a sombre Eid al-Fitr on Thursday amid rising hostilities between Israel and Palestinians, in the second celebration in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-day festival, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, is traditionally celebrated with mosque prayers, family feasts and shopping for new clothes, gifts and sweets.

But casting a pall on the festival, already subdued due to the raging pandemic, was deadly violence between Israel and Palestinians, with fears growing that it could spiral into full-blown conflict.

Tensions have soared over Israel’s planned eviction of Palestinians from a district in annexed east Jerusalem, which the Jewish state sees as part of its eternal capital but is considered occupied by the United Nations.

Israel on Thursday scrambled to quell riots between Arabs and Jews on its own streets after days of exchanging deadly fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza.

In Gaza, 83 people have been killed so far – including 17 children – and more than 480 wounded in days of relentless Israeli air strikes on the crowded coastal enclave.

Echoing the mood in much of the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman voiced scathing criticism of Israel in a phone call Wednesday with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on the occasion of Eid.

The king “stressed Saudi Arabia’s strong condemnation of the Israeli measures in Jerusalem and the acts of violence carried out by Israel… [and] affirmed that the kingdom stands by the Palestinian people,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Prayers and hope

State media broadcast images of King Salman, 85, performing Eid prayers in the planned megacity of NEOM in northwestern Saudi Arabia.

Mask-clad worshippers entered the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca along socially distanced paths to pray before the Kaaba – a cube-shaped structure sacred to Muslims.

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