Israel-Hamas War Rages In Besieged Gaza As Ramadan Begins

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins Monday in Gaza, with no end in sight to the conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists, as a terrible humanitarian crisis grips the besieged Palestinian territory.

A Spanish charity ship carrying food supplies is preparing to travel from Cyprus to the coastal Gaza Strip, where the UN has frequently warned of hunger.

Aid organizations claim barely a quarter of the commodities needed to meet basic humanitarian requirements have been permitted into Gaza since October, when Israel imposed a near-total embargo.

Mohammed Harara stood on the coasts of Gaza, 370 kilometers (230 miles) from Cyprus across the Mediterranean Sea, waiting for supplies to arrive.

“I’ve been waiting since this morning because tomorrow is the start of the holy month of Ramadan and the situation is very tragic,” he told reporters.

The non-governmental organization Open Arms stated that its boat will tow a barge carrying 200 tonnes of food, which its partner, the US charity World Central Kitchen, would then discharge on Gaza’s shoreline.

Konstantinos Letymbiotis, a Cypriot government official, said it was anticipated to depart “within the coming hours”.

Jordanian, US, French, Belgian, and Egyptian planes dropped aid into northern Gaza on Sunday, but the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for the region says increasing supply via land is the only option to reach the territory’s 2.4 million residents.

Picking through dirt

AFPTV photos indicate that some of the airdropped food bags shattered open on contact, leaving locals to sift through the ground to salvage what they could.

According to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, the conflict began on October 7 with a Hamas onslaught on Israel and has killed 31,045 Palestinians, the majority of whom are women and children.

Weeks of discussions between US, Qatari, and Egyptian mediators have aimed for a six-week truce and the release of many of the hostages kidnapped on October 7 and still held by extremists. In exchange, Israel would release Palestinian inmates detained in Israeli jails.

The goal had been to end the conflict by the start of Ramadan.

Both sides blamed one other for failing to strike a truce agreement after Israel sought a complete list of remaining hostages and Hamas asked that Israel withdraw all of its forces from Gaza.

A source familiar with the truce talks told AFP that “there will be a diplomatic push, especially in the next 10 days” to reach an agreement by the first half of Ramadan.

This year’s holy month is “all pain,” according to Ahmed Kamis, 40, of Rafah, where around 1.5 million people have sought refuge but remain vulnerable to Israeli bombing.

Israel has also threatened to conduct a ground attack in the southern city.

In Washington, President Joe Biden, who is under fire for his unwavering support for Israel as the civilian death toll in Gaza rises, delivered a statement commemorating the start of Ramadan.

“This year, it comes at a moment of immense pain,” he remarked.

“As Muslims worldwide break their fast, many will remember the suffering of the Palestinian people. It is top of mind for me,” Biden said.

In his Ramadan message, King Salman of Saudi Arabia urged the international community to “uphold its responsibilities to put an end to these heinous crimes and ensure the establishment of safe humanitarian and relief corridors”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued his own letter, expressing “solidarity and support to all those suffering from the horrors in Gaza.”In these challenging times, the spirit of Ramadan is a beacon of hope, a reminder of our common humanity.”

Exorbitant prices

On Saturday, Biden expressed his growing frustration with Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling MSNBC that the Israeli leader “must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a result of the actions taken.”

Biden claimed that Netanyahu’s approach to the battle was “hurting Israel more than helping Israel” at this point.

Netanyahu, under pressure from desperate relatives of hostages still held in Gaza, as well as government critics, dismissed Biden’s statements on Sunday, saying most Israelis support “the action that we’re taking to destroy the remaining terrorist battalions of Hamas”.

He said Israel’s forces had killed “at least 13,000 terrorist fighters,” but did not elaborate on how the figure was calculated.

According to Israeli official numbers, the Hamas attack that began the war killed around 1,160 people in Israel, the majority of whom were civilians.

The militants also grabbed over 250 captives, with dozens of them released after a week-long truce in November.Israel claims 99 hostages are still alive in extremist hands, while 31 have perished.

The UN has warned that it is particularly difficult to transport food and other relief to northern Gaza.

What is available in the south is exorbitantly priced, according to residents, making this Ramadan unlike any other.

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