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Israeli strikes spoil Gaza's first Ramadan night

Gaza residents shudder under Israeli strikes during first Ramadan night as 30% of Gazans go without daily income in holy month
A Palestinian man sells goods in his shop at a market in Gaza City on June 28, 2014 (AA)

Israeli warplanes roared above the roof of Ruba al-Zaanein's family house in the Gaza Strip late on Saturday.

The mother of five, shuddering in fear, huddled together with her children in one of the rooms.

"The strikes were so strong that I felt a new war was being waged on Gaza," al-Zaanein told Anadolu Agency.

"Instead of cheering the advent of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the children were crying," she lamented.

The last hours of Saturday and early hours of Sunday were exceptional for Gaza's almost 1.8 inhabitants.

While Muslims the world over celebrated the advent of Ramadan, a time of great spiritual and religious reverence, the residents of Gaza shuddered under Israeli strikes.

Israel launched repeated strikes against Gaza overnight, depriving residents the cheerfulness that always espouses the coming of Ramadan in other Muslim-populated areas in the world.

"The noise of the planes was frightening," said 9-year-old Basmala Abdurrahman.

Even with this, the little girl defied her fears and enthusiastically carried her multicolored lantern in her hand and headed toward the local mosque where older Gaza residents prayed for an end to Israel's aggressions.

"My mother told me that God will save Gaza if we pray for this at the mosque," said Abdurrahman.

Inside the mosque people stood, bowed, and prostrated in piety and hope that the planes rumbling over their heads would not spoil the taste of Ramadan even more.

Fear

While men and children prayed at mosques, some women were actively preparing the pre-dawn meal for the family.

Salma Hemeid worked tooth and nail to control her fears to be able to prepare food for her children and her husband.

"I was hoping that the meal would be a special one," Hemeid, 42, told AA. "I was, however, totally hand-tied by the explosions and the shrapnel everywhere," she added.

The night was similarly bleak for Rasha Naeem, a mother of seven, who had to work hard to allay the fears of her children who were awaken by the noise of the Israeli aircraft.

"It's Gaza's fate to experience these terrifying nights every now and then," Naeem said.

"Isn't it enough that we have been living in this blockade all these years?" she asked.

Gaza has been blockaded by Israel since 2006.

30% of Gazans without daily income in Ramadan

Around 30 percent of the residents of the Gaza Strip are left without a daily income during the fasting month of Ramadan, a new survey showed on Sunday.

Around 600,000 people are left without daily income in the strip, which stands for 30 percent of Gaza's population of 1.8 million, said the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, an independent body.

It added that this year's Ramadan, which begins Sunday, coincides with tough economic conditions for the people of the coastal enclave for the eighth year in a row.

The chamber said that Gaza's unemployment rate has reached 41 percent of the labour force, which is widely expected to hit 44 percent in the second half of this year.

Around 38.8 percent of the residents of Gaza are poor, the chamber said, referring to a similar rise in abject poverty.

It noted that deteriorating economic conditions in Gaza had prevented the Strip from importing commodities and foodstuffs necessary for Ramadan.

Israel has been blockading Gaza since 2006.