West Bank Palestinians Are Also Going Hungry. This 800 Year-old Soup Kitchen Is Stepping Up

12:00 Apr 8 2024 Takiat Ibrahim Kitchen, Hebron (مطبخ تكية ابراهيم الخليل)

West Bank Palestinians Are Also Going Hungry. This 800 Year-old Soup Kitchen Is Stepping Up West Bank Palestinians Are Also Going Hungry. This 800 Year-old Soup Kitchen Is Stepping Up West Bank Palestinians Are Also Going Hungry. This 800 Year-old Soup Kitchen Is Stepping Up West Bank Palestinians Are Also Going Hungry. This 800 Year-old Soup Kitchen Is Stepping Up West Bank Palestinians Are Also Going Hungry. This 800 Year-old Soup Kitchen Is Stepping Up
Photos: Published by Haaretz
Workers cook food at Takiat Ibrahim food kitchen in the old city of Hebron in the West Bank, March 24. Credit: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters

The Ibrahimi mosque, also known as Cave of Patriarchs, is pictured near Takiat Ibrahim in the old city of Hebron. Credit: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters

Workers cook food at Takiat Ibrahim soup kitchen, March 24. Credit: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters

In the old city of Hebron in West Bank, on March 24. Credit: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters

A Palestinian man walks as he carries food near Takiat Ibrahim in Hebron. Credit: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters


The Takiat Ibrahim soup kitchen has operated in the West Bank city of Hebron since the 13th century, and is the reason the city is said to be a place where nobody goes to bed hungry. During this year's Ramadan and Gaza war, it had to scale up like never before

by Nagham Zbeedat for Haaretz
Apr 8, 2024

The Takiat Ibrahim, or Prophet Ibrahim Charity Kitchen, located in the historic city of Hebron in the heart of the occupied West Bank, feeds thousands of people every day, a number that increases during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends on Tuesday.

During Ramadan, the kitchen's increased operations foster a sense of community and solidarity for those it serves. Beyond fulfilling the basic requirement of providing meals to the hungry, the institution, which was founded in 1279 as one of the first Islamic charitable foundations for people in need, is a community hub at a time of particular spiritual significance.

According to news reports from the last few years, Takiat Ibrahim feeds between 1,000 and 2,000 people on regular days. The kitchen's director, Hazem Mujahid, told American news agency The Media Line in 2022, that "the number doubles during the month of Ramadan." Mujahid recently told Al Jazeera, that operating the kitchen cost almost 10,000 dollars a day.

The organization's efforts to supply meals to a larger crowd come as the West Bank reels amid the fallout from Israel's war in Gaza. The kitchen's workers say thousands more people are now dependent on their work.

Since the outbreak of violence, most Palestinian workers have been banned from entering Israel. Some 160,000 laborers (or 19 percent of the workforce in the West Bank) worked in Israel and in the settlements prior to October 7, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The wages of these workers are higher than average for the West Bank, which provides an important anchor for the Palestinian economy.

"We provide daily meals to about 2,000 people, but this number doubles during the month of Ramadan to 4,000 people who benefit from this place"

Hazem Mujahid, kitchen director
In January, 14,000 Palestinians were permitted to work in industrial zones in settlements and in several vital industries in Israel. It did little to improve the economic situation. In late December, the PCBS stated that unemployment in the West Bank had climbed to 29 percent from 13 percent before the war. In recent months, grocery stores have stopped accepting non-cash payments and are refusing to sell on credit.

55-year-old Hatem Dawoud al-Rajabi, whose work as a plumber was heavily impacted by the war, and who has a wife and 11 children to support, told Al Jazeera in February that he was forced to turn to the soup kitchen for meals due to the current situation. "I found no alternative but to go to the Ibrahimiyya [Takiat Ibrahim]," he explained.

Many families have similarly struggled to purchase enough food and found themselves dependent on Takiat Ibrahim for the hot meals that the organization, through its many chefs and volunteers, provides. The kitchen runs on donations, with the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs providing funding for salaries and administrative costs.

In February, the Palestinian Authority said it would pay public sector workers 60 percent of their December salaries for the week, as Israel refuses to transfer tax funds earmarked for Gaza to the Authority. Although Gaza is controlled by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority continues to fund essential areas of the enclave's budget, including paying the salaries of health workers.

Its own funding has also been severely restricted by the months-long dispute over transferring the tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

The ban on workers entering Israel and withheld revenue aren't the only factors harming the West Bank's economy, however. According to the United Nations' International Labor Organization, another element at play is restrictions on the movement of people and goods. The ILO estimates that this led to a further decline of 10 percent in employment in the private sector.

For the Palestinians dependent on the soup kitchen, it is a lifeline as the war in Gaza passes the six-month mark, with no end in sight.

In addition to its humanitarian efforts, Takiat Ibrahim plays a vital role in preserving Hebron's cultural heritage. As one of the oldest charitable institutions in the region, it serves also as a reminder of the value of service and charity.

Takiat Ibrahim previously faced demolition and was subsequently forced to relocate to its current location next to the Ibrahimi Mosque, otherwise known as Tomb of the Patriarchs. Almost miraculously, despite being meters away from Israeli checkpoints, it remains accessible to those who need it.

Hagar Shezaf and Reuters contributed to this report.
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