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‘Practically Fasting for Months’: Gazans Struggle to Celebrate Ramadan

Every night during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the man would come along Rawoand Altatar’s street, banging on his drum and calling out to the faithful to wake them up for suhoor, the predawn meal. His nightly mission used to be lit up by Ramadan lamps and twinkling decorations.

But this Ramadan, Ms. Altatar’s street is eerie. The man, called a musahharati in Arabic, is absent. There are no decorations or electricity, and the street is surrounded by buildings destroyed or damaged in Israel’s bombardment. Their own home has been partially destroyed as well.

“There is no sense of Ramadan,” she said, referring to the month when Muslims fast all day. “We are missing our family and gatherings, the food, even the simplest thing like the sweet juices, the Ramadan decorations and lamps, which filled the streets,” said Ms. Altatar, a photographer who worked at a private school before the war.

Israel’s war in Gaza has transformed Ramadan, which began on Monday, from one of color and boisterous gatherings into one observed against a backdrop of gray rubble and dark, empty streets.

Gathering to break the fast during Ramadan last April in the Nuseirat area of the Gaza Strip.Credit…Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times
Using firewood this week to prepare a meal for iftar, the breaking of the fast, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.Credit…Mohammed Salem/Reuters

With no hoped-for cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the armed group that has controlled Gaza for years, a time of religious devotion, dawn-to-dusk fasting and charity is now a daily struggle for survival. For many Gazans, attempts to bring some cheer into the enclave are up against a mountain of despair.

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