Gazans flock to markets ahead of Ramadan, despite high prices

Gazans flock to markets ahead of Ramadan, despite high prices
4 min read
31 March, 2022
Residents of Gaza flocked to popular markets ahead of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which is set to commence on Saturday, despite increasing prices for basic goods.
Markets were crowded in Gaza just before the beginning of Ramadan [Getty]

In a contrast to what was expected, the famous markets in the besieged Palestinian coastal enclave of Gaza have witnessed a high turnout ahead of the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan, which is set to commence on Saturday, although prices have increased recently for basic goods. 

Local people flocked to Gaza's markets and malls to buy their needs for the holy month. Metro Market, one of the major malls of the enclave, was overcrowded with customers and their children. 

Nagham al-Salmi, a 38-year-old mother of three, told The New Arab that prices of goods had increased significantly.

“Despite these high prices, we have to celebrate our holy month and encourage our kids to do that as well,” she said. 

She added that she would only buy basic goods for the holy month because of the high prices. 

Gazans prepare for Ramadan
With Ramadan on the horizon, Gazans have flocked to the markets to stock up on groceries for Iftar and Suhoor [credit: Sally Ibrahim]

In previous years, she would buy big quantities of goods such as milk, cheese, meat, and vegetables that would suffice for the whole month of Ramadan.

But today she said she would only do enough shopping for a few days.

Live Story

The situation was similar at the al-Zawiya market, one of the most popular markets in downtown Gaza City, with customers crowding the streets

The shops were filled with traditional Ramadan goods, including lanterns and luminous shapes of different colours and sizes.

Mohammed Quader, a toy shop owner, said that he had succeeded in selling most of his goods despite the difficult economic situation.

“In the beginning, I was afraid that I would suffer losses if I could not sell my goods, but it seems that people are eager to celebrate this blessed month after so many months of suffering due to the recent Israeli war,” the 55-year-old father of six said as he flashed a smile. 

“There's no doubt that food prices have increased, but we have decided to reduce the percentage of profit in children's toys and Ramadan decorations in order to ensure the sale of our goods,” the merchant added, as he arranged goods outside his store to attract more customers.

Muslims worldwide fast about 15 hours a day for 30 days during Ramadan, while housewives usually spend the end of the day in kitchens to prepare fast-breaking meals in addition to desserts and juices.

Gazans prepare for Ramadan
Ramadan is a time for reflection, faith, family and community [credit: Sally Ibrahim]

Khitam Ibrahim was one of Quader’s customers, buying Ramadan lanterns for her four children. She told The New Arab that the atmosphere of Ramadan is beautiful in Gaza and added that buying Ramadan-related products was necessary to enhance the holy month's overall joy.  

The 42-year-old mother said that she and other Gazans were unable to celebrate Ramadan last year because of the deadly Israeli assault on the besieged territory.

Khitam said three members of her family - her son, her brother, and her sister - were killed. 

“This Ramadan, I will miss them, but I have to celebrate because I believe they can see us and they want us to be happy in our holy month,” she said while trying to hide her tears.

In May 2021, Israel launched an 11-day bombing campaign assault on Gaza, killing more than 250 Palestinians and injuring thousands of others. Tens of thousands of homes and much of Gaza's basic infrastructure were destroyed. Palestinian armed factions in Gaza fired thousands of rockets at Israel, killing 13 people.

Israel says Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, is a terror organization. Though Israel has attacked Gaza many times before, locals say May's round of violence was the most intense they had seen since 2014.

Gazans prepare for Ramadan
Markets in Gaza have replenished their stock in anticipation of Ramadan [credit: Sally Ibrahim]

“No one can forget those dreadful days, but life will go on, and we must live it to the full. We are a people who love life and love to live in safety and enjoy the Ramadan atmosphere.” Saleh Abu Jerboa, a taxi driver who was stuck in traffic because of the crowds in the public streets, told The New Arab.

Since 2007, Israel has imposed a tight blockade on the coastal enclave after Hamas, which won legislative elections in 2006, took control of the area by force from its political rival Fatah. 

Since then, the political and economic situation has deteriorated, with tens of thousands of people plunged into poverty.