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Gaza family holds Friday prayers at home

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Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

With mosque closures across the world because of the coronavirus pandemic, one Palestinian imam and his family in the Gaza Strip held their weekly prayers at home on Friday.

Saleh Shtaiwi, 24, normally leads the weekly prayers in a mosque close to his Gaza City home.

But with mosques closed, the congregation this week comprised his parents, son and other family members gathered in the living room.

After prayers, food was brought out and served in the same place.

"Friday prayers is obligatory in the mosque. With mosques closed, we must perform them in our homes," Shtaiwi said.

Like much of the globe, authorities in Hamas-run Gaza have imposed strict social distancing measures.

All large gatherings have been banned and mosques and schools closed for the immediate future, with residents urged to stay home.

The male and female members of Shtaiwi's family prayed together, something which is not permitted in Gaza mosques.

"There is no problem praying with children and families, it is so they can learn," Shtaiwi said.

"We are abiding by the home quarantine regulations, we didn't invite anyone from the neighbours or relatives to join us."

His 58-year-old father Ali said they prayed that "God protect people from the corona epidemic among us and throughout the world."

So far 12 cases have been confirmed in Gaza, all of them placed under quarantine.

Thousands of Palestinians who have returned to Gaza via Egypt have also been quarantined as a precautionary measure.

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