As the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha, or feast of the sacrifice, approaches, Gaza's markets are packed with cattle to be sacrificed in celebration of the religious holiday, however it seems the difficult economic conditions have reduced local demand.
Over the past few years, the tunnels that connected the Gaza Strip to the outside world have been vital for meat traders who managed to smuggle in livestock from Egypt. But after the recent destruction of the tunnels resulted in a deterioration of the economic situation, with increasing unemployment and poverty in the Strip, local demand to conduct the religious ritual has weakened, despite the continued availability of animals at affordable prices.
Over the past few years, charitable organizations have overseen the slaughter of dozens of sacrificed cattle to be distributed to needy families, while others arranged for those who could not afford cash payments to cover part of the costs or to pay later.
According to Tahseen Saqqa, the Director of Marketing at the Ministry of Agriculture: "the government imported 34 thousand sheep, lambs, calves and cows in 2013 mostly from Egypt. The animals were smuggled through the tunnels before they were shut down." Thus Saqqa explained that the domestic production could still fulfil the usual demand during Eid Al-Adha, saying: "Gaza annually needs 52 thousand animals to be sacrificed. The Ministry follows up with prices and prevents any attempt to monopolize or manipulate prices by any dealers."
However when asked about merchants' complaints over low demand, Saqqa replied that: "Gaza consumes similar amounts of sacrificed animals each year and any small difference is normally associated with the economic situation, which in turn is influenced by the political situation."
MEMO Photographer:Mohammed Asad