NewsWar and Fasting in Gaza: A Ramadan with no cease-fire in sight

War and Fasting in Gaza: A Ramadan with no cease-fire in sight

War and Fasting in Gaza: A Ramadan with no cease-fire in sight
Images source: © GETTY | Anadolu
10:56 AM EDT, March 12, 2024

In Gaza, where the Muslim holy month of Ramadan typically heralds a time of communal prayer, fasting from dawn until dusk, charitable acts, family gatherings, and nightly feasts, the ongoing Israeli military offensive and near-total blockade have cast a long shadow over these sacred traditions. Now in its sixth month, the conflict has led to the loss of over 31,000 lives due to Israeli bombardments and a ground invasion. The severity of the situation has escalated to the point where severe hunger spreads across Gaza, leaving the coastal enclave on the brink of famine, as reported by United Nations officials.

The usually bustling streets of Gaza, once filled with families preparing for Ramadan by purchasing decorations, food, and sweets, stand in stark contrast to the current atmosphere of displacement and destruction. Many of Gaza's 2.2 million residents have been forced to abandon their homes, with a significant number now living in crowded tent encampments. Mosques, central to the community's Ramadan observances and claimed by Israel to have been used by Hamas fighters, have been reduced to rubble.

The conflict has not only disrupted Gaza's physical infrastructure but has also profoundly affected its residents' ability to observe Ramadan in the traditional manner. Ahmad Shbat, a 24-year-old street vendor now displaced, reminisces about past festivities and laments the current state, where families are separated and traditional gatherings are impossible. The significance of fasting during Ramadan takes on a new dimension in Gaza, where the population, already facing severe food shortages, finds little distinction between the sacred fast and the enforced hunger due to the blockade.

Efforts to observe Ramadan continue amidst these hardships, with individuals like Shbat preparing for nightly prayers in whatever spaces remain available to them. However, the absence of community gatherings, especially around the iftar meal, which breaks the fast, underscores the profound impact of the conflict on Gaza's social and religious life.

Calls for a ceasefire and international mediation efforts, including Qatar's, have yet to yield a resolution. As the people of Gaza face a Ramadan marked by loss and hardship, the hope for peace and a return to traditional observances remains a distant dream. The situation underscores the resilience of Gaza's residents, who, despite the overwhelming challenges, continue to hold onto their faith and the practices that define Ramadan for them.

Sources: Reuters; NYT; AP

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