Hunger and fear overshadow Ramadan in Gaza as ceasefire talks stall

Hunger and fear overshadow Ramadan in Gaza as ceasefire talks stall

Shafaq News/ Palestinians began Ramadan in a gloomy mood, with Israeli security measures and the shadow of war and famine in Gaza dampening the festive spirit of the Muslim holy month. Ceasefire talks remained deadlocked, dashing hopes for a peaceful Ramadan.

A Hamas official told Reuters “We were willing to resume negotiations, but he was unaware of any scheduled meetings with mediators in Cairo.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric met with Hamas political chief Ismael Haniyeh in Qatar on Sunday to discuss the humanitarian crisis. She also met with Qatari officials as part of the ICRC's efforts to talk directly with all parties, the ICRC said.

In Gaza, where half of the 2.3 million people live in the southern city of Rafah, many under plastic tents and facing acute food shortages, the mood was bleak.

"We didn't prepare anything for Ramadan because we have been fasting for five months now," said Maha, a mother of five, who would normally decorate her home and stock her fridge for the evening Iftar meals when people break their fast.

"There is no food, we only have some canned food and rice, most of the food items are sold at exorbitant prices," she said via chat app from Rafah, where she is sheltering with her family.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, said in a post on X that Ramadan should "bring a ceasefire for those who have suffered the most" but instead for Gazans "it comes as extreme hunger spreads, displacement continues & fear + anxiety prevail amid threats of a military operation on #Rafah".

In the southern Gaza town of Al-Mawasi, Palestinian health officials said 13 people were killed in an Israeli strike on a tented area where thousands of displaced people were staying.

In the West Bank, which has witnessed unprecedented violence for over two years and a further escalation since the Gaza war, the situation is also tense, with Jenin, Tulkarm, Nablus and other restive towns on edge for more clashes.

In Israel, fears of car ramming or stabbing attacks by Palestinians have also prompted increased security measures.

For many Gazans, there is little choice but to hope for peace.

"Ramadan is a blessed month despite the fact this year is not like every year, but we are steadfast and patient, and we will welcome the month of Ramadan as usual, with decorations, songs, with prayers, fasting," said Nehad El-Jed, who was displaced with her family in Gaza.

"Next Ramadan, we wish for Gaza to come back, hopefully all the destruction and the siege in Gaza will change, and all will come back in a better condition."

Noteworthy, at least 30,878 Palestinians have been killed and 72,402 injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7. The death toll in Israel from Hamas’s October 7 attacks stands at 1,139, and dozens continue to be held captive.

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