by Osma Radi, Omar Othmani
GAZA, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Cakes are the favorite food of the Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip when they prepare for Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival that Muslims worldwide celebrate the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
Although this year's Eid al-Fitr, which will start on Sunday, has been clouded by the worsening economic situation in Gaza, the markets in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave are still overcrowded, as trade has reached its peak during Ramadan.
In Omar Al Mukhtar Street and the nearby Zawya popular market in Gaza City's downtown, store keepers offer a wide range of goods, including clothing, footwear, household items and candies, to attract as many as customers as possible.
Young people, who see Eid al-Fitr as an opportunity to earn money, put dozens of tables in the main streets of Gaza to sell sweets, nuts and festival cakes.
Abu Salah Abu Sidu, an old man who was shopping around the market, told Xinhua that he had bought plenty of cakes as Eid gifts for his extended family which has 13 members.
He said a kilo of cakes stuffed with dates cost between 15 and 28 shekels (8 U.S. dollars).
Um Mahmoud Badr, a female customer in the market, said she preferred to buy flour, semolina, butter, sugar and dates to bake cakes at home to save money.
For her part, baking cakes at home makes her children more cheerful and brings more joy to the family.
Another favorite delicacy of Eid al-Fitr in Gaza is salted fish, better known as fesikh, which is eaten on the first day of the festival.
Fatma Khadr, a mother of seven children, said salted fish is a "holy thing" for her family and most of the residents in the Gaza Strip for breakfast on the first day of Eid al-Fitr.
However, Sameh al-Sakani, 25, who has been selling salted fish for eight consecutive years, complained that the economic recession in Gaza has led to a reduction in fish sales, as the financial capacity of customers is very limited.
Khamis al-Tabtibi, a clothes merchant, said he only sold 30 percent of his total merchandise for Eid al-Fitr this year despite the price-cutting campaigns.
He said this year is especially difficult, considering the 30 percent cut of the salaries of government employees.
Gaza has suffered an economic recession since Israel imposed a blockade in 2007, right after Islamic Hamas Movement violently seized control of the enclave.
Years of blockade has exacerbated shortages in Gaza, where unemployment rate, the highest in the world, reached 41.7 percent by the end of 2016, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
In addition to economic deterioration, Gaza also suffers the lack of basic services, such as the shortage of about 70 percent of its electricity needs and serious drinking water pollution.