May 22, 2024

Deir el-Balah, Gaza – Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims, with people decorating their homes, buying things for special Ramadan dishes, and planning gatherings with family and friends to break their fast together.

But in Deir el-Balah, as Israeli bombing continues and the list of civilians being killed gets longer by the day, there is little to indicate that the festivities are on the doorstep.

Al Jazeera spoke to two sellers in the Deir el-Balah market as they were trying to stir up some Ramadan joy.

Atia Harb, 38, had some old Ramadan decorations laid out in his market stall and was playing festive tunes, trying his best to attract customers despite the grim conditions.

Harb was displaced with his family of 11 from Sheikh Redwan in northern Gaza.

“This year’s Ramadan is starkly different,” he said. “There is non-stop noise of bombs and racing ambulances.”

He is not likely to drum up much interest in his wares in a besieged enclave where severe scarcity and soaring prices of what basic goods can be found leave little energy or funds for decorations.

“Today, most people are in shelters, makeshift tents, and in the streets,” he says. “They’ve lost their homes, their sanctuary.”

Jabr Mushtaha, 45, used to be a renowned confectioner in Gaza City. He now peddles his wares in the market.

“My sweets shop in Gaza used to be so busy with Ramadan customers every year,” he says.

“Now, it’s so different. The shop was bombed, my house was bombed, and I’m a displaced person.”

He was displaced to Deir el-Balah five months ago, and has since been struggling to find the raw materials he needs to keep making his confections.

Sugar, which was once priced at 95 shekels ($26) per bag, now fetches a staggering 3,000 shekels ($831) – a more than 500 percent increase, Mushtaha explains.

“With such steep prices, people can scarcely afford the essentials, let alone luxuries,” he adds.

But Mushtaha has to work, so he and his sons make their sweets to sell and support the family of 10.

“After I was in my office and my beautiful shop, now I am standing in the street selling. The difference is huge.”

Mushtaha’s Ramadan wish is for the war to stop so they can return to their homes in the north.

“We were hoping that there would be a ceasefire for Ramadan. How horrible that it didn’t even stop for a minute.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *