**War-Torn Ramadan: Gaza Fasting Amid Ceasefire Stalemate**

RAFAH, Gaza Strip – As Palestinians in Gaza began fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the challenging situation in the region persists, with cease-fire talks stalled, hunger increasing, and the long-standing conflict between Israel and Hamas showing no signs of resolution. The start of Ramadan was marked by prayers held amidst destroyed buildings, tent camps adorned with lights and decorations, and children dancing in celebration at a U.N.-school-turned-shelter.

The people of Gaza, already reeling from five months of war that has claimed thousands of lives and left the territory in ruins, are facing grim circumstances. Families struggle to find enough food, with canned goods being a scarce option due to high prices. Sabah al-Hendi, a resident of Rafah, expressed the prevailing sadness in every household, noting the profound impact of the conflict.

Efforts to broker a cease-fire by the United States, Qatar, and Egypt ahead of the festive period of Ramadan have hit a roadblock. Hamas insists on assurances that any agreement will lead to the end of hostilities, a demand rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is determined to achieve “total victory” over the militant group. Netanyahu recently announced the killing of a top Hamas leader and hinted at further targeted attacks.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on Israel and Hamas to observe the spirit of Ramadan by halting the violence and releasing all hostages. The conflict, which began with an attack by Hamas militants into southern Israel, has displaced a significant portion of Gaza’s population and pushed many to the brink of famine. The dire situation in the territory has been exacerbated by Israeli restrictions and ongoing hostilities, impeding the delivery of much-needed aid.

Despite international calls for a cease-fire and humanitarian assistance, the conflict in Gaza shows no signs of abating. President Joe Biden has called an attack on the southern city of Rafah a “red line,” but the United States continues to provide military aid to Israel. As the crisis in Gaza deepens, efforts are underway to deliver aid through alternative means, such as a proposed sea bridge by the U.S. military and aid shipments from Spanish humanitarian groups.

The mounting casualties, dire living conditions, and escalating violence in Gaza underscore the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. As the holy month of Ramadan unfolds against a backdrop of suffering and loss, the international community faces a pressing challenge in mitigating the humanitarian crisis and preventing further loss of life.