Thousands of Muslims attended morning prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City as worshippers marked the first day of Eid al-Adha on Sunday, the festival of sacrifice which spans four days.
Eid prayers were followed by family visits to graves to pay respects to loved ones as part of the holiday tradition.
In the West Bank City of Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas along with officials performed prayers at the presidential compound. A wreath was then laid on the late President Yasser Arafat’s grave.
Abbas is awaiting the United Nations’ decision on granting Palestine recognition as a member state, a move that is being blocked by Israel and the United States.
Abbas has criticized efforts to deny his country recognition by U.N. agencies saying it is a natural right of Palestinians to seek membership.
Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas and currently under an Israeli blockade, prayers were attended by the Islamist group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh.
He spoke of the Israeli air strike on Saturday that killed a Palestinian militant and described it as a sacrifice for the greater good of freedom.
Eid al-Adha is regarded as one of the most important Islamic holidays and includes the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, known as the “hajj”, which is mandated for Muslims who can afford the journey.