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The Changing Face of Ramadan in Gaza: From Hope to Despair

March 26, 2024
Abdul Rahman Al-Helou, 11, decorates the shelter tent to which he and his family were displaced in Rafah on March 10. Photo credit: Saher Alghorra/Instagram


Ramadan of 2023 marked a positive beginning for Palestinians in Gaza, as they hopped from market to market shopping for food and decorating their houses. Little did they know that the following year would be one of the darkest and bleakest times in Gaza.

The year 2023 was the first in many, where Gazans were feeling optimistic about the holy month, after years of Israeli wars, according to the New Arab.

Palestinians were hoping for peace in the Gaza Strip during the holy month of Ramadan. “The peace and political understanding between the Gaza-run Hamas and Israel have made it possible for local families to mark Ramadan according to their traditions,” A 28-year-old woman in Gaza said in an interview referring to last year’s Ramadan.

Gazans were decorating their streets and houses, visiting markets, and lighting up lanterns in 2023, contrary to this Ramadan, when people are not eating night or day, have no food to break their fast, and live in tents.

‘Ramadan last year versus this year in Gaza.’ Photo credit: Quds News Network/Twitter

Since the beginning of the war on 7 October 2023, 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced, 1.5 million of whom are currently living in tents in Rafah, and 32,000 have been killed.

“There is no meaning to the month without gathering around the table with the family,” a Palestinian who left Gaza said.

According to humanitarian and aid distribution workers in Gaza, the agency controlling access to Gaza, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), is enforcing random and inconsistent criteria to obstruct aid delivery.

While an average of 159 humanitarian aid trucks entered the Gaza Strip daily during the first 20 days of March, the displaced enclave battles with illness and is struggling to cope with having no food to break their fast amidst the severe hunger crisis.

Living in camps amidst the horror, children in north Gaza are searching for scraps of food in the garbage, surrounded by the sounds of bombing.

Trying to remain rooted in their Muslim identity and create a sense of home and normalcy for their kids, Palestinians decorate their city of tents, much like they did their neighborhoods in the past.

Unlike previous Ramadans, where Muslims would pray in mosques and enjoy Ramadan delicacies with their families, they hear the muffled calls to prayer amidst the sound of Israeli drones.

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