A dried fruit merchant's shop is seen as people shop for supplies before the start of Ramadan.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are preparing to mark the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramzan from Friday amid a deteriorating economic situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 22, the Hamas-run Gaza government, declared a state of emergency, imposing a series of precautionary restrictions, reports Xinhua news agency.
Since then, all mosques, universities, schools and restaurants have been shut down, and public gatherings have been prohibited.
As a result, commercial activities in the coastal enclave's markets have been very limited, and merchants have been complaining about accumulation of goods in their warehouses.
Ramzan, the holiest month of the year to Muslims, has special rituals and traditions in addition to the main religious practice, fasting from dawn to sunset.
Decorating home and streets with lanterns is Ramzan's most common tradition.
Ibrahim al-Jamal, who sells lanterns and toys at al-Zawia market in Gaza city, said, on days like these, the market should be crowded with children and their parents coming to buy lanterns.
But now there is no such festive atmosphere, he said.
In an attempt to mitigate the psychological impact of the current situation, especially on children, Gaza psychiatrist Sami Foad from Nuseirat refugee camp devised a simple method to make lanterns at home, which he started to teach children online.
"Without lanterns, children won't feel the Ramzan atmosphere," he said.
Children are not allowed to go to stores to buy lanterns due to the state of emergency and most families cannot afford lanterns this year, he added.
Foad came up with the idea after dozens of parents complained to him about the psychological impact on their children who have been staying home for a long time.
Making lanterns, he said, makes children happy "as they partake in the preparations for Ramadan," and helps them "release the negative energy through doing meaningful things".
The psychiatrist says he spends hours on the social networking platform Skype, connecting with hundreds of children to teach them how to make lantern step by step.
Foad makes the lanterns with cardboard paper, candles, glue and scissors, which are usually available at home.
West Bank and Gaza have reported 474 coronavirus cases with four deaths.
The Palestinians denounced the move as "collective punishment" of the impoverished territory's 2 million residents, who have lived under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces nearly 15 years ago.
The deaths on Friday came as thousands of Palestinians held protests at several sections of the Israel-Gaza border fence. Gaza's health ministry said 38 others were wounded by live fire.
Many Palestinians have commended the UAE's move to provide the coronavirus vaccine to the Gaza Strip, in light of the long-imposed blockade that hinder the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines into the Strip.
The fruit contains essential minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and other vitamins which provide a wide range of benefits.
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