HomeTop StoriesAmid violence and hunger, Palestinians in Gaza are determined to celebrate Ramadan

Amid violence and hunger, Palestinians in Gaza are determined to celebrate Ramadan

From his crowded makeshift tent made from donated plastic sheeting, Fahed Abu El Khair told CBS News that this was not the life he once dreamed of for his family.

Once living in a comfortable middle class, they now live in a crowded encampment in southern Gaza City Rafajust a stone’s throw from the towering lights of the Egyptian border.

“I have six people in my family,” says Abu El Khair. “My wife and children… and the way we live is not life.”

Before the October 7 Hamas attacksThe father of four was one of the few Palestinians from Gaza who was able to obtain a rare permit to work in Israel. But since Israel retaliatory attackAbu El Khair has had to move his family four times to survive.

“All we have now is a few cups, a plate and a pan to cook with,” he said. “It’s barely enough for anyone to live on, let alone feed our children.”

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Fahed Abu El Khair and his son.

CBS mornings


In the days immediately following the Hamas attacks on October 7, Israel has effectively closed off the Gaza Strip by cutting off most food, water, and medications.

Nearly six months later, international aid organizations say that more than 1 million people – half of Gaza’s population – are now in the midst of a famine. At least twenty-seven children were said to have been affected in March Starvation in the north of the besieged Palestinian territory, where, according to United Nations figures, as many as a quarter of all children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition.

In the south, where the Abu El Khair family is hiding, the other half of Gaza’s population will probably end up experiencing famine by late spring, in what the UN calls “a reasonable worst-case scenario.”

Despite the enormous hardships, the Abu El Khair family has not lost their faith. Ramadan and fasting is special to them, and so before they begin the day of abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, they gather for a meal before sunrise. All they need to eat is a few pieces of bread and a sweet sesame paste – a meal enough for one person, but not for a family.

While fasting, Abu El Khair cannot rest. He has to spend his day searching for food for his family in one of the few remaining markets in Gaza. But as he walks from stall to stall, he can hardly afford anything. Costs have skyrocketed through southern Gaza. Even a small bunch of green onions had to be negotiated.

Before the war, an estimated 500 trucks entered Gaza every day carrying food, other goods and international aid. Nearly six months after Israel’s ongoing attack, that number still stands dropped by 80 percent, aid groups said. The Israeli military says the denial of some shipments and lengthy checks on aid trucks are intended to prevent Hamas from smuggling in weapons and supplies.


Muslims celebrate Ramadan amid the tension of the war between Israel and Hamas

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The Abu El Khair family has had to find other ways to survive. Fahima, Abu El Khair’s wife, built a wood-burning oven in their tent to try to make extra money by selling bread, but that money doesn’t go far.

“Even if I work all day, all I can afford is a few tomatoes or an eggplant,” she said. Even when her daughter helps, it’s a struggle.

“We can only bake bread over an open fire,” Fahima said. “But I feel like our whole lives are in flames.”

Breaking their fast was also not an easy process. Preparing a meal traditionally served at sunset was complicated by the fact that it had to be prepared on the floor of a tent. Over an hour after the sun had set, the meal was finally ready.

“We live in a tent pitched on the sand. We eat food that, as you can see, we can hardly cook,” said Abu El Khair. “We live only by God’s grace.”

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