This Ramadan, give to Gaza

Donating to Gaza charities will not address the cause of Palestinian suffering, but it can help alleviate dire need.

Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 5, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid famine, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 5, 2024 [Reuters/Mohammed Salem]

As we approach the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the brutal war on Gaza has entered its sixth month. The assault on Gaza has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, including 13,000 children. Aid delivery to the north of Gaza is being restricted, resulting in the starvation of many more.

Worse still is the Israeli threat to launch a ground operation in Rafah during Ramadan, where more than 1.5 million people are crammed in, many displaced from other parts of Gaza. What was previously a “safe zone” declared by the Israeli army, is now a densely populated refugee camp. Rafah has a surface area of around 63 square kilometres (24sq miles). The average population density is now more than 22,200 people per square kilometre (57,276 per square mile). That is twice the density of New York City.

Attacking Rafah would be a bloodbath. The entire world – even the United States – has warned against the operation, but, according to rhetoric from Israeli government officials, there seems little chance the attack on Rafah will not be carried out.

The start of Ramadan, which would usually be a time of celebration, love and dedication to Allah (SWT), has now been turned into a date to fear for the Palestinians of Gaza. For more than five months, they have been deprived of food, water, medicine, and their homes. Now, they will also be deprived of a peaceful celebration of their holy month.

If true to the threat made, the invasion begins during Ramadan, it will be the end of Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and the start of its humanitarian disaster.

For us on the outside, watching this catastrophe unfold has been extremely painful. Many have felt helpless in the face of Palestinian suffering, but we can and should do something about it.

Giving to charity is a key pillar of Islam all year round, but in Ramadan, we Muslims give even more. This emulates Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) who was especially generous during the holy month and we believe the blessings for those who donate are multiplied significantly.

This year, this Ramadan, it is essential that every person – Muslim or non-Muslim – gives every penny they can to help the people of Gaza. Families all across the Gaza Strip, especially in the north, are experiencing famine. The UN’s hunger monitoring agency, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, has confirmed, “This is the highest share of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity that the IPC initiative has ever classified for any given area or country.”

Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan. However, the conflict means that when the time comes to break fast, many Palestinians in Gaza will have nothing to eat or drink. Since October, parents have routinely been choosing to go without food and water, so their children can eat.

Even if the assault on Rafah does not happen – and let us pray that it does not – Ramadan will be a time of great need for the people of Gaza. The death toll is rising by the hundreds every day, the healthcare system is collapsing due to the endless bombardment. The number of children orphaned has exceeded 17,000. Access to clean water is becoming a luxury, creating an environment that is ripe for waterborne diseases.

And amid all of this suffering, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the largest relief agency operating in Gaza, has been smeared and, as a result, defunded by its biggest donors, despite there being not a shred of evidence to support the accusations levelled at it.

It is imperative for people of all faiths and none to give to aid organisations working in Gaza today, tomorrow and throughout Ramadan. Your generosity is needed to feed the fasting and the starving. Your charity is needed to give clean water to those who need it to live and to purify themselves before prayer. Your acts of giving will bring hope to those who have had everything taken from them.

Despite the many challenges, there are organisations that are doing their utmost to help the people of Gaza. They are actively working to overcome the restrictions imposed on the delivery of aid, pressuring the international community to do whatever it takes to get the lifesaving assistance to the people who need it.

Donating to aid organisations won’t address the cause of Palestinian pain and misery, but it can help hold back the tide. It is an act of solidarity.

This Ramadan, many are facing difficult economic circumstances and are worried about the cost-of-living crisis. But this is an unprecedented time; the people of Gaza need our help. Amid the greatest suffering being inflicted on a population in most of our lifetimes, we must all give like Muslims.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.