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Gaza City – Muslims around the world celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday by performing Eid prayers in outdoor places, gathering as families around festive traditional meals, and wearing bright new clothes.

This year, in the besieged Gaza Strip, people celebrated Eid al-Fitr in an atmosphere of calm and comfort after breathing a sigh of relief that a new Israeli offensive did not break out after repeated incursions by Israeli forces into Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Weeks of rising tensions and sporadic exchange of rocket fire between Gaza and Israel had raised fears over a new Israeli offensive similar to the one last May, when after weeks of protests and raids on Al-Aqsa during Ramadan the violence escalated into an 11-day assault on the besieged Strip.

That war during the Eid holiday led to the deaths of at least 260 Palestinians, as well as 13 Israelis, and led to significant destruction in an already impoverished territory.

Amani al-Kahlout, 29, a young woman who is passionate about cooking and home decorations, told Al Jazeera how she carefully prepares at home each year for all the details of Eid al-Fitr, and the rest of the holidays.

“I love the atmosphere of Eid in Gaza a lot. I like preparing meals and special hospitality for the Eid visitors,” al-Kahlout said.

“Eid is an opportunity to cheer up and create joy and happiness away from the pressures surrounding us in Gaza,” she said.

An Instagram celebrity with more than 200,000 followers, she told Al Jazeera how she likes to show that the Gaza Strip is not all about bombs, destruction and blood.

“In Gaza, there are people who have ambitions, dreams and love to enjoy their life to the fullest, just like any other people in the neighbouring countries,” she said.

“I often receive messages on my account from followers outside Gaza asking me: Is it really [what I publish] in the Gaza Strip? As if the only image of Gaza is the image of destruction and bombing.”

Al-Kahlout admitted that the economic and political conditions in Gaza have a suffocating effect on all aspects of life: People losing their ability to make a daily living, and the psychological pressure of living in situations that may escalate at any moment.

“Despite the ongoing siege imposed on us … and the endless crisis we suffer, people are still creating happiness for themselves,” she said.

“The joy of Eid is obligatory and I’m keen to create a joyful atmosphere for my family.”

Al Jazeera accompanied al-Kahlout as she spent the Eid al-Fitr holiday with her husband and two daughters in their home in the northern Gaza Strip.

Source: Al Jazeera

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