Feature: Livestock buyers, sellers in misery to mark Eid al-Adha in Gaza

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-09 17:41:57|Editor: ZX
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GAZA, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- "It's the first time ever that I cannot afford anything for sacrifice," Ibrahim al-Mughrabi said desperately, while looking at the goats in a livestock farm located in Gaza.

The 35-year-old father of three children went to the farm with his friend who wanted to buy a small calf to mark Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice.

"My six brothers and I used to buy a goat or calf for sacrifice every year, but this year we cannot afford this due to the bad economic situation that we live in," he added.

Mughrabi is an employee at the government of Islamic Hamas movement. For over seven years, he has been paid only 40 percent of his salary, hardly enough for his most basic needs.

Despite the high price, Salim Abu Shaban has bought two goats to mark Eid al-Adha.

"There is no feast without sacrifices," he said. "I know the situation in Gaza is very hard, but we must continue our traditions."

Shaban put the goats in the garden of his house, letting his little kids play with them, saying "when we were kids, we were looking forward to this festival. I cannot prevent my children from experiencing such emotional moments."

Suffering from poverty, Shaban had to sell wife's gold in order to buy the sacrifices to celebrate Eid al-Adha with his family, he said.

In a bid to overcome the harsh situation, many Gazans are used to sharing the cost of a cow or a calf.

Meanwhile, livestock sellers have been suffering in the Gaza Strip for the fourth year in a row from low purchasing power ahead of Eid al-Adha, caused by the high rate of poverty that stops the Gazans from celebrating this festival.

The livestock markets are witnessing low demand despite the decreasing prices, according to merchants.

"Customers come here checking the animals, asking about the prices, then leave without buying," Abu Ahmed Batniji, the livestock merchant, told Xinhua.

The bad economic situation forced the merchants to import fewer livestock to protect themselves from the loss, just like what happened in the past four years.

"But this year is the worst one ever," Batniji added, saying he only sold 20 calves and 30 sheep.

Many customers asked him to sell them the goats in installments, but he refused. "It is also hard for me, because I do not have any guarantee in such economic crisis."

Along the main road of Salah Aldin, there is a huge livestock farm which belongs to the Afana family. It was crowded by the customers, most of them employees with charities, who are used to buying cattle for poor people, said Mohammed Afana, the owner of the farm.

"Even these guys work with internationally-funded organizations, they come here to buy the sacrifices with installments," Afana told Xinhua, while following the negotiation about the prices.

He noted that year by year the situation turns the worst, hindering local people to celebrate their most important festivals.

The ministry of agriculture in Gaza announced on Monday that more than 12,000 heads of cattle and 30,000 sheep and goats were prepared for the Eid al-Adha.

The Gaza Strip imports the livestock from Israel, Egypt, Australia and Romania.

The price of beef per kg ranges between 4 and 5 U.S. dollars, while that of sheep and goats between 6 and 8 dollars. A cow or calf weighs 720 kg averagely while a sheep weighs around 100 kg, which means total prices could hit 3,600 dollars and 800 dollars, respectively, an awful burden for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip under the Israeli blockade imposed since 2007.