No Ramadan Joy for Muslims in Gaza

Israel Bombing Campaign Steals Holiday From Palestinians

getty images

By Noah Browning

Published July 16, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

(Reuters) — Instead of enjoying celebrations and night time feasts, Palestinians in Gaza are spending the Islamic holy month of Ramadan cowering in their homes and temporary shleters from Israeli bombs.

Muslims fast during the daylight hours in Ramadan and sundown would normally bring a carnival atmosphere to Gaza’s crowded streets, with lanterns strung above alleys and children fueled by sweets playing until the early hours.

Suhair Abu Jalilah and her two daughters are among the some 17,000 Palestinians who fled their homes in Gaza to crowded U.N. schools after Israel warned it would bomb their neighborhoods.

“There’s just no joy this season. We’re sleeping on mattresses in a crowded hallway. They provide us our Iftar (the evening meal to break the fast) but other times we’re eating porridge and thyme,” she said as Israeli drones buzzed overhead.

“We’ve been so tired and afraid. We hope so much to return and feel some kind of safety soon.”

The Gaza Strip already faced a bleak Ramadan because of soaring unemployment and poverty, but the holiday coincided with a battle between Hamas militants launching rockets at Israel and Israeli aircraft pounding the territory.

At least 180 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, and a truce proposed by Egypt on Monday failed to take hold.

Stores are now shuttered and people stay indoors, listening out for the shriek of rockets and thud of bombs.

Mosque prayers which usually follow the evening meal have mostly been abandoned after Israel destroyed one mosque and damaged another 34, according the local Al-Mezan Association for Human Rights.

Nearly 260 civilian homes have been destroyed and 1,034 damaged, the group said.

Israel said the mosque was used to store rockets and says its attacks only target militant weapons and personnel and strive to avoid civilian casualties.

The Hamas Islamist group which runs the Gaza Strip would usually mark Ramadan by setting up kitchens for the needy and disbursing stipends to public sector workers.

But its political members have now gone into hiding while fighters have taken to the front, leaving more humble employees to cope with the crisis.

Like most other government workers, doctors in the trauma ward of Gaza’s main Al-Shifa hospital have not received a salary in three months and just half their wages for four months before due to a cash crunch in the Hamas government and internal Palestinian political squabbles.

Still, medics have worked 24-hour shifts every other day, treating the inflow of bloodied and limbless patients. They keep their fast by not drinking water or eating in daylight and sit down for a modest Iftar when work allows.

“The meal in the hospital isn’t great of course, but seeing the condition people are in you’re grateful for what you have,” Doctor Mohammed Belami said.

“We know we’ll get our wages eventually, as well as our rights as a country. In the meantime, it feels good to help people and it helps me forget the psychological stress and low morale I’m going through,” he said.

Mohammed Silmi sat in the hospital bed next to his prostrate 14-year old nephew, who periodically grunts and writhes in pain, a cast covering his arm and much of his left side.

An air strike, his uncle said, landed in an alley near where he and a group of other boys were playing on Wednesday.

“For us, Ramadan is ruined. He’ll always remember it as the worst in his life.” Silmi said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.