Palestinians prepare for end of holy month of Ramadan

Tens of thousands of Palestinians to participate in a processions, celebrations and cultural evenings to mark Eid al-Fitr.

Palestinians shopping during Ramadan 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians shopping during Ramadan 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tens of thousands of Palestinians are to participate in processions, celebrations and cultural evenings to mark Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month Ramadan on Thursday. The celebrations are to continue through till Sunday.

The Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, began Thursday for Palestinians, according to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.There was slight confusion over the timing of the new moon, but the Muslim Iftaa department in Palestine called on people to follow its directives, explaining that in case the new moon is seen tonight people will be required to fast an additional day to complete at least 29 days of fasting.
Eid al-Fitr falls immediately after Ramadan, the holy month when observant Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Ramadan can last either 29 or 30 days, depending on when the first moon of the next lunar month is sighted, and the dates often differ from country to country.Over 2.5 million worshipers prayed atop the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the entire month of Ramadan, the Al-Aqsa Foundation stated on Thursday.
Palestinian news agency Ma'an quoted the foundation as saying the majority of worshipers appeared for Friday prayers and during Laylat al-Qadr - celebrated on odd nights often towards the end of Ramadan, depending on the Islamic sect. Laylat al-Qadr marks the anniversary of the night Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad.In the West Bank, men with children in tow are to pay respects to female relatives — mothers, sisters and aunts — bearing gifts of sweets as well as cash. The women will greet their visitors with offerings of baklava and other pastries.
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities on Tuesday announced the closure of the Rafah border crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip for the end of Ramadan.The border will be closed in both directions from Thursday till Sunday evening, due to re-open on Monday morning.The Egyptian Interior Ministry announced that travel is only permitted to those with foreign passports, Egyptian residents, those with permission from the Health Ministry, and humanitarian emergencies.The celebrations will not be confined to the Palestinian territories, rather, Muslims worldwide are to throng mosques, cafes and parks over the week, in a solemn and joyful end to the fasting month of Ramadan.Authorities increased security in some countries due to fears that violence could intrude on celebrations, but for most Muslims it was a day of peace, family — and most important food.During Ramadan, the faithful are supposed to abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex in a dawn-to-dusk period meant to test the faith and discipline of Muslims.Reuters contributed to this report.