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AP Week in Pictures: Middle East

Israeli Arabs stand under a waterfall during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday at the Gan HaShlosha national park near the northern Israeli town of Beit Shean, Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Eid al-Adha meaning "Feast of Sacrifice," this most important Islamic holiday marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians and Jews) to sacrifice his son. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in the Middle East, Afghanistan & Pakistan Region between July 15-21, 2021.

This week’s selection includes scenes from across the region, where Muslims marked Eid al-Adha, under the shadow of the coronavirus. Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice,” is typically marked by communal prayers, large social gatherings, slaughtering of livestock and distributing meat to the needy. This year, the holiday comes as many countries battle the delta variant first identified in India, prompting some to impose new restrictions or appeal for people to avoid congregating and follow safety protocols.

The pandemic has already taken a toll for the second year on a sacred mainstay of Islam, the hajj, whose last days coincide with Eid al-Adha. Once drawing some 2.5 million Muslims from across the globe to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the pilgrimage has been dramatically scaled back due to the virus. In Jerusalem, Jews took part in the ritual of Tisha B’Av (Ninth of Av) fasting and a memorial day, commemorating the destruction of the ancient Jerusalem temples. In Lebanon, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stepped down after nine months in the position, in an announcement likely to plunge the country further into more chaos and uncertainty.

The gallery was curated by Oded Balilty, AP Chief Photographer for Israel & the Palestinian Territories.

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