by Sanaa Kamal
GAZA/RAMALLAH, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Palestinians flock into markets and shopping malls in Gaza and West Bank to prepare for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which will start on Saturday, amid the noticeable rise in prices of commodities.
Merchants decorated their shops with huge lanterns and lights in a bid to attract customers, while songs for the holy month were played to welcome them.
Samira al-Ghoula, a 38-year-old mother of four, spent many hours wandering the markets and malls in Gaza.
"Unfortunately, there is a big rise in the prices of goods, not only flour, but also vegetables and chicken," she told Xinhua.
The high prices stopped Mohammed al-Moghrabi, a 48-year-old father, from buying gifts for his seven children.
"I mainly depended on the financial aid provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, and I hope that someone can help provide food for my children during the holy month of Ramadan," he told Xinhua.
Ihab al-Helou, a toy merchant from Gaza, decided to offer discounts to attract more customers.
"Prices of goods have gone up due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict," he told Xinhua, explaining that "it is better to be able to get a lower profit than to incur a big loss."
"People here are eager to live in a safe atmosphere in Ramadan, not like what had happened last year," he added.
In May 2021, Israel launched an 11-day bombing campaign on Gaza, killing more than 250 Palestinians and injuring thousands of others. Tens of thousands of houses and much of Gaza's basic infrastructure were destroyed. Palestinian armed factions in Gaza fired thousands of rockets at Israel, killing 13 Israelis.
The violence between Israel and Palestinians broke out last May was considered the most intense since 2014.
Prices of basic commodities imported from abroad have increased in the Gaza Strip, reaching approximately 11.5 percent, according to Osama Nofal, the director-general of Planning and Policies at the Ministry of Economy in Gaza City.
"This rise will cast a shadow on the residents of the Gaza Strip, while the ministry has taken measures to mitigate the rise, such as the exemption of imported flour's customs duty," he told Xinhua.
In the West Bank, Mohammed Ahmad from Ramallah told Xinhua that the atmosphere of Ramadan has not changed for the Palestinian people despite the high prices of goods, as well as the tensions that occur from time to time with the Israelis.
"Ramadan is the month of goodness and blessing. We cannot give up living and celebrating it, no matter the circumstances," he said. ■