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Grieving father comes out to pray for all of Gaza’s dead

ISLAM Abu Isaeed stands in a ward in central Gaza’s Al-Aqsa hospital, praying over the bodies of people killed in Israel’s offensive.

He says he already lost his own children, his mother, his sister, her family and cousins – in total 36 relatives – during the fighting.

He has mourned them, and also taken on a much wider responsibility. Every week, sometimes every day, he comes out to the hospital to share in the grief of every family he can reach and pray for all the war’s victims.

“For six months, almost, we have been coming to the hospital and praying upon thousands of martyrs, martyr after martyr. We ask God that they be among the best martyrs,” Abu Isaeed said.

More than 33,100 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive, according to the health ministry in Gaza. The conflict was triggered by an October 7 raid on Israel by Hamas militants who killed some 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

In the hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir Al-Balah, 60-year-old Abu Isaeed is often the one leading the prayers in the hugely significant collective act where Muslims seek forgiveness and solace for the deceased.

He has also started touring the wards to talk to the wounded.

“We go and try as much as we can to help the people to be patient, especially with reciting the Koran, as it has a very good effect on people’s patience” he told Reuters.

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Bereaved relatives said they appreciated his quiet presence.

“His attitude is very beautiful. He calms the people down and he reminds the people of God Almighty. He shares people’s sorrows,” said one of them, Mohammed Al-Hour.

“For six months, I always saw him standing next to people and especially with me since I lost a lot from my family. He used to share my sorrows. He used to stand beside me and pray with us at funerals.”