Tens of Thousands Converge on Acre, as Islamic World Marks Id al-Fitr

Municipality working closely with the police to ensure order, says deputy mayor.

The Islamic world celebrated the first day of the three-day Id al-Fitr holiday on Sunday, drawing tens of thousands of people to the old city of Acre.

Theres no doubt these are special and welcome days for merchants and celebrants alike, said Hani Assadi of Acres merchants council.

In recent years, Acre has become a major center of Id al-Fitr celebrations among Israeli Arabs.

Booths offering games for children can be found throughout the old city, and several musical and artistic performances for children and families will take place on Monday and Tuesday.

To ease congestion, the old city has been closed to vehicles during most of the day. Instead, visitors can park in lots on the outskirts of town and take shuttles.

Deputy Mayor Adham Jamal said the municipality is working closely with the police to ensure order. During this time, we expect tens and, I hope, hundreds of thousands of celebrants, he said. And without order, this will become a real danger to them.

In previous years, Jamal noted, there were several accidents involving horse-drawn carriages, a popular feature of the festivities. They miraculously caused no serious injuries, he said, but this year, in an effort to prevent a repeat, the city licensed only 13 carriages and assigned them to specific routes.

A camel joins in the festivities, during Id al-Fitr celebrations in Acre, on August 19, 2012.
Yaron Kaminsky