Palestinian youth plan cost-of-living protests

Some groups are calling for the resignation of PA Prime Minsiter Fayyad, who they hold responsible for price hikes.

By REUTERS
September 3, 2012 18:15
3 minute read.
Palestinians protest in Ramallah [file photo]

Palestinians protest in Ramallah 370. (photo credit: Michael Omer-Man)

 
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Palestinian youth groups in the West Bank are planning a series of street demonstrations over the next few days to protest price increases for basic goods and fuel.

Some of the groups are demanding the resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, saying his government is responsible for the price hikes.

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On Monday, dozens of cab drivers staged a protest in the center of Ramallah, calling on the PA to intervene to stop increases in the price of fuel.

Scores of residents called for demonstrations in other West Bank cities. The protesters announced that they would block the streets leading to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Mukata compound on Tuesday.

A Facebook group called “Palestinian Youth Against Price Increases” called for sit-in strikes in Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Palestinian journalists in the West Bank have also joined the protests.

Romal al-Swaiti, a journalist from Hawarrah, a village outside Nablus, announced he would ride a donkey to work to save the cost of transportation. He invited photographers to document his daily 8-kilometer journey, adding that he would also use the donkey for transportation inside Hawarrah.

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Swaiti said the decision to replace his car with a donkey was aimed at sending a message to Palestinians, that they should not remain idle in the face of recent price increases.

He purchased the donkey for 100 Jordanian dinars, approximately NIS 500.

Another journalist, Mohamed Abed Rabbo, said the West Bank was on the verge of “explosion.”

He added jokingly: “Perhaps it’s time to start thinking of importing donkeys because soon there will be a huge demand for them in light of the deteriorating economy.”

Meanwhile in Gaza, a young man died after setting himself on fire, apparently in protest at economic hardship in the Palestinian enclave, the man’s family and police said on Monday.

Ehab Abu Nada, 18, left his home on Thursday after an argument with his father, who had urged him to find work to help feed his poor family.

Frustrated in his job hunt, Abu Nada doused himself in gasoline and set himself alight inside Gaza’s main Shifa Hospital.

Neighbors suggested he might have chosen to immolate himself at the hospital because he had wanted to make a gesture rather than kill himself, but medics there could not save him. Abu Nada was pronounced dead on Sunday.

“He left to seek work and he did not come back. My heart was shattered,” his weeping father told a local radio station. “We live in miserable conditions,” he added.

“We live in a rented house and I hardly can afford the rent.”

A Hamas police official said an investigation was under way into the young man’s death, citing unemployment as his possible motive.

Abu Nada’s suicide is another sign of frustration over the lack of work in the coastal territory, where a Gaza man set himself ablaze last year in despair, but survived.

Two suicides-by-fire in Israel this year – and several more attempts – have coincided with lingering social justice protests. But few Gazans anticipate any broad unrest as a result of the case in the desperately poor but heavilypoliced Strip, which has endured an Israeli economic blockade for years.

A United Nations report published last week said poverty stood at 40 percent among Gaza’s 1.6 million people, of whom 80% depended on outside aid. It said nearly 30% were jobless.

It is unclear how Abu Nada’s death would affect Hamas’s policies.

Many Gaza and West Bank residents blame the political division between Hamas and Fatah for tearing apart Palestinians’ social fabric, dimming hopes for statehood and hamstringing the economy.

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