Palestinians fear war is near as Israel attacks Gaza during Ramadan yet again

Tareq S. Hajjaj

Mondeoweiss  /  April 7, 2023 

The recent crackdown on worshipers at the Al-Aqsa compound has confirmed the fears of many in Gaza: the Netanyahu government is provoking Palestinians as a pretext to launch another war.

It started on Thursday at 11:34 pm, when Israeli warplanes soared across Gaza’s skies, launching the first airstrike on sites affiliated with Palestinian resistance factions in different locations in the besieged coastal strip. 

As the sound of bombs fills Gaza, people immediately start posting on social media, checking up on each other in anticipation of the breakout of yet another war. Minutes later, nearly at midnight, the airstrikes are heard again, this time louder and with greater persistence. The Israeli warplanes continue to occupy the sky as the constant buzzing of drones normalizes the war’s prospect.

Families immediately gather around and decide to spend the night together, watching and observing the news until dawn, when they have suhur, the predawn Ramadan meal, before beginning the day’s fast. As they eat, they try to ignore the persistent sound of bombs dripping in the distance. Flashbacks from the two most recent wars on Gaza in 2021 and 2022 cross people’s minds as the mounting fear and anxiety quickly become the prevailing sentiment. 

During the night of Thursday, April 6, the Israeli air forces and tanks on the borderline across the eastern part of the Gaza Strip bomb and shell different locations every 20-30 minutes. The strikes become more frequent at times when people are awake — suhur time and the dawn prayers. 

No human casualties were reported, but the destruction that was discovered by the light of day revealed the reasons underlying people’s fears. 

The airstrikes left huge craters in the ground at the targeted sites. Shrapnel had flown everywhere, damaging nearby homes and buildings and filling the entire area with gray dust, mud, and rubble. 

The airstrike on one site, in the Toffah area in the eastern Gaza Strip, caused partial damage to the Dorra Pediatric Hospital in the same area. 

The Gaza Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the airstrikes caused panic and fear for the child patients, doctors, and hospital staff.   

“The Ministry of Health strongly condemns the recent Israeli attacks that caused partial damage and horrifying experiences for children in Al-Dora hospital,” the MOH said in a statement. “These attacks not only put patients’ lives at risk, but also create a sense of fear and insecurity among healthcare workers, patients, and their families.” 

In Khan Younis, Deir al-Balah, and Rafah, several residents and homes were also slightly impacted by the bombs.

The Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza responded by firing rockets into Israel, vowing that the resistance in Gaza was ready to defend the Palestinian people. 

“Today, the Palestinian resistance in Gaza fulfills its true pledge to Jerusalem and its people,” the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza, the Al-Quds Brigades, said in a statement on Friday. “The resistance reserves its right to respond to the Israeli attacks and aggression against our people, and the resistance shall remain,” the statement continued. 

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) also warned in a press release of an Israeli escalation on Gaza. “Any bloody escalation by Israel against Gaza will be met with the escalation of all forms of resistance,” the statement read. 

Last Wednesday, Israeli forces attacked the Al-Aqsa compound and beat worshipers staying overnight in the mosque for Ramadan prayers, detaining many Palestinians and denying them their freedom of worship during their holy month of Ramadan. 

This escalation was predicted weeks ago by Palestinians, as Israeli violence against Palestinians increases every year during the holy month of Ramadan. Many believe this is done to suppress the Palestinian presence in the holy site and assert Israeli sovereignty over the compound, the third holiest site in Islam.

Moreover, Palestinians in Gaza have been fearing that the Netanyahu government might provoke the resistance factions in Gaza to respond to Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa, for the purposes of escaping internal pressures generated by the Israeli protest movement against the Netanyahu government’s proposed judicial overhaul.

On Thursday afternoon, rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon. No group claimed responsibility for the rockets, while the factions in Gaza praised the move. 

The escalation has so far resembled the prelude to the war in 2021, when Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa and detained over 200 people on the 25th night of Ramadan. At the time, Palestinian factions in Gaza responded to the provocation by firing rockets. This, in turn, led to a 10-day war on Gaza, which left 200 Palestinians dead and hundreds of families homeless.

Tareq S. Hajjaj is the Mondoweiss Gaza correspondent and a member of Palestinian Writers Union