Gaza orphan's self-immolation sparks outcry on social media

After the death of Karajeh, the Palestinian Construction Contractors Union in the Gaza Strip announced that it would “adopt” his homeless brother, Aboud.

Palestinian youth hold Hamas-made rocket [File] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian youth hold Hamas-made rocket [File]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The death of a 28-year-old Palestinian from the Gaza Strip weeks after self-immolation has triggered a wave of protests among Palestinians, who are accusing Hamas and the Palestinian Authority of failing to prevent the tragedy.
Yahya Karajeh died in a hospital last Thursday from wounds he sustained when he set himself on fire in protest of economic hardship in the Gaza Strip. In a video he posted on social media a few days before he set himself on fire, Karajeh complained that no one in the Gaza Strip wanted to help him.
He said that he went to the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, but was kicked out by the guards.
“The guards told me that Haniyeh is no longer the prime minister,” Karajeh said. “I went to the Palestinian Authority offices, where I was told to go away. Who should I go to? My father passed away and my mother remarried and is living in Jordan.”
Karajeh said that he and his younger brother, Aboud, have been sleeping on the streets of the Gaza Strip in recent months because they have no relatives in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.
Palestinians who visited Karajeh in hospital days before his death quoted him as saying: “I didn’t try to commit suicide. I just imploded.”
Karajeh’s self-immolation highlights the economic and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2007.
Hamas officials fear that his death could reignite street protests against economic hardship in the Gaza Strip, similar to those that erupted in March 2019. Hamas security forces used excessive force to suppress the protests on the pretext that they were part of a “conspiracy” to undermine Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.
Last month, Hamas arrested scores of activists in the Gaza Strip who were reportedly trying to launch new protests against economic hardship, particularly increased taxes, high cost of living and soaring unemployment.
After the death of Karajeh, the Palestinian Construction Contractors Union in the Gaza Strip announced that it would “adopt” his homeless brother, Aboud.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said that Karajeh tried in 2009 to flee the Gaza Strip through smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt, but fell victim to traders of human organs, who seized him for 18 months before discovering that he was of no use to them because of a hormonal imbalance. He later returned to the Gaza Strip, where, together with his brother, he was forced to sleep on the beach and other public places.
In the past few days, many Palestinians took to social media to express outrage over the failure of Hamas and the PA to provide an adequate solution for the Karajeh brothers.
“We have one president, two governments, the PLO, the Palestine National Council, the Fatah Central Committee, the Palestinian Legislative Council, 18 political parties, 22 ministries, 10 military groups, hundreds of charitable organizations and dozens of clan leaders and businessmen,” commented Facebook user Diala Al-Buhaisi. “None of them were able to provide a small room for the poor brothers, Yahya and Aboud, to shelter them from the cold of the winter and heat of the summer.”
Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Masri said in a Facebook post that the death of Karajeh would result “in the downfall of any regime in any elections.”
Another journalist, Ayman Khaled, remarked sarcastically: “I’m sure the leaders of Hamas will hold an important meeting to discuss whether Yahya Karajeh will go to Paradise or Hell.”
Suicide is prohibited in Islamic law, and a Muslim who commits suicide commits a major sin.
Other Palestinians wrote that Karajeh’s death is a “disgrace” for all Palestinian leaders who ignored his pleas for help. One woman from the Gaza Strip commented: “Today Yahya Karajeh set himself on fire or, to use his own words, imploded. Tomorrow, there will be one million people who will do the same thing.”
“The whole people are heartbroken because of this tragedy,” she said. “They are extremely angry with the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.”