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Humans of Gaza: Masoud al-Qutati, pastry chef known as ‘Knafeh Man of Gaza

He was popular among people in Gaza for serving the most delicious ‘knafeh,’ a sugar-soaked pastry found in all West Asian countries that is believed to have originated in the Gaza Strip.

The “Knafeh Man of Gaza,” Masoud al-Qutati, also known in his community as “Abu Shadi”, was the beloved knafeh-maker whose restaurant in the Al-Zaytoun neighborhood of eastern Gaza was a one-stop destination for voracious foodies and particularly for knafeh aficionados.

Qutati had mastered the art of making the popular Palestinian dessert filled with cheese and topped with rose water syrup, which has become synonymous with Gaza and Gazan food.

The 64-year-old pastry chef would offer his knafehs at giveaway prices to those who could not afford the delicacy, which also earned him the nickname “Father of the Poor”.

His restaurant continued to be thronged by knafeh lovers even after the Israeli regime launched its attacks on the besieged coastal territory on October 7, indiscriminately bombing civilian areas.

On November 3, the man who would bring smiles to people’s faces was killed in one of those strikes.

Like most Palestinians, Qunati also faced persecution at the hands of the Zionist regime during his life but he never gave up and continued to resist by smiling away all worries.

During the First Intifada (1987-1993), his small truck that used to sell knafeh was set ablaze by the Israeli forces. The characteristic Palestinian resilience he embodied helped him to rebuild his business.

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