Gaza: Just a couple of hours before Maghrib prayer, the old local market in the beach camp area in Gaza city gets crowded as people go about their shopping. While some people are capable of buying all their needs, most of the shoppers can barely buy necessities.

Every year, the prices increase during Ramadan because of the huge demand during the first few days of the month. The wealthy and mid-class segment buy most of their needs in the first few days of Ramadan while the lower class spread out their purchasing throughout the month.

Mohammad Yassin, a poultry shop owner in the beach camp market said: “I believe that the prices go high because many of the relief associations. The restaurants and wealthy people buy large amounts of poultry. Sometimes we barely manage to supply the huge demand during the first week of Ramadan.”

For many Gaza traders, Ramadan is a profitable time since they sell their goods which may have be stocked for the entire year.

Yassin added: “During Ramadan, we sell twice or even triple the amount we usually sell during any other time of the year. We sometimes have to close the shop early.”

The huge demand for goods by the wealthy minority affects the budgets of a large majority whose have limited budgets.

Al Hassan Baker, an economic analyst said: “The large amount of goods picked up by the higher class and relief associations is the reason for the increase in prices.”

Despite the increase in the prices and difficult financial circumstances, poor Palestinians are more careful about their spending.

Rawia Atallah, a house wife receiving social aid from the government said: “My six children and I mainly depend on social aid and some income my elder son earns from fishing, but I try to buy them [the children] their needs during Ramadan.”

Although many of the relief associations become more active and distribute aid during Ramadan, 40 per cent of the Palestinians considered to be living below the poverty line keep on purchasing products which they don’t really need.

Baker adds “Despite many Palestinians not being able to afford their needs, they keep on purchasing as a matter of habit more than spending on necessities and this exhausts their small budgets.