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Ramadan celebrations in Gaza before the war. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Abdallah Aljamal – Gaza

“We used to roam in all areas of the Nuseirat camp, singing Ramadan songs, carrying drums, and alerting people to wake up for Suhoor”.

The Musaharati is a traditional character of a drummer who wakes Muslims up before sunrise during Ramadan, so that they may eat and prepare for the fasting day ahead. 

Around one hour before the call to prayer at dawn, the Ramadan drummers walk through the streets of Gaza to wake worshippers. 

However, the Israeli genocidal war on Gaza prevented this tradition from continuing. 

“During Ramadan every year, we used to volunteer with a group of young people from the Nuseirat refugee camp to wake up the camp residents at Suhoor time,” Ismail al-Hafi told The Palestine Chronicle.

“But this year, the war prevented us from doing so and, unfortunately, several members of our group were either killed or wounded,” he added.

“We used to roam in all areas of the Nuseirat camp, singing Ramadan songs, carrying drums, and alerting people to wake up for Suhoor,” al-Hafi remembered.

“People loved our work; they would take pictures of us, and many invited us to have Suhoor in their homes. The atmosphere was joyful, while this year we only feel sadness and sorrow”.

Possible Ceasefire

Alaa Ayat is another Musaharati in Nuseirat. He was the singer of the group, thanks to his beautiful, high-pitched voice.

“I used to roam with the others, singing Ramadan-related songs, while the team echoed behind me with harmonized voices. The atmosphere was very beautiful during Ramadan,” he told us.

“Our homes, like all other homes, were subjected to Israeli bombardment. No house is fit for living now,” Ayat said, with a tone of sadness in his voice.

“Many members of our group were either killed or injured. One of the singers, Aahed al-Assar, was martyred along with two brothers from the Al-Bayoumi family, who also used to sing with us.”

Ayat told us that they were encouraged when US President Joe Biden spoke about the possibility of a humanitarian ceasefire during Ramadan. As a testament to the incredible resilience of the Palestinian people, the group was ready to continue their tradition, despite everything. 

“I immediately called the others and everyone agreed to my request. However, we later learned of the (Israeli) occupation’s refusal to agree to the ceasefire,” he said.

“Now, we are nearing the end of the first half of Ramadan, and Israeli airstrikes continue in various places in the Gaza Strip.”

We Don’t Need to Be Woken Up

“I used to stand with my family on the balcony of my house, filming the Musaharati who roamed the streets every night to wake us up for Suhoor,” Muatasem Altala told The Palestine Chronicle.

“But this year, we don’t need anyone to wake us up because there is no food to eat, and there is nothing to feed our children. We have been fasting since the beginning of Ramadan without Suhoor,” he added. 

“Moreover, this year, we don’t need the Suhoor drummer because we can’t sleep due to the intensity of the Israeli bombardment,” Altala concluded.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Abdallah Aljamal is a Gaza-based journalist. He is a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle in the Gaza Strip.

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