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Palestine: Protests Erupt Against High Prices and Unemployment

Protests are growing in the Palestinian territories, especially in the major cities of the West Bank: Hebron, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus. Demonstrators are expressing their anger with the Palestinian Authority, with the high cost of living, and the high rate of unemployment among Palestinian youth.

The protests started after the Palestinian Authority declared an increase of about 8% in fuel and petrol prices in the West Bank, starting from the beginning of September. There was therefore a rapid rise in prices, without any significant increase in salaries or wages in the Palestinian territories.

Aban Idrees witnessed a protest in Hebron and tweeted [ar]:

@abanidrees: في مدينة الخليل شلل تام في حركةالمرور بعد إحتجاجات اليوم ضد الغلاء والمطالبة بإسقاط حكومة فياض حيث لا تكاد سيارة تتحرك في الشارع
In Hebron the traffic is in absolute paralysis after the protests against the high cost of living demanding the government of Fayyad to resign. Cars are barely moving in the street

Blogger Ola Al Tamimi also tweeted from Hebron [ar]:

@OlaAlTamimi: شارع عين سارة أكبر شوارع الخليل مغلق بالشاحنات وأجساد الناس .. وبدأت بعض الناس بالتحرك باتجاه مقر الأمن الوطني ومبنى المحافظة
Ain Sarah, the biggest street in Hebron, is now blocked by trucks and people. Some protests are beginning to move towards the National Security headquarters and the municipality building

Ola added [ar]:

@OlaAlTamimi:أول مرة بتاريخ الخليل بتصير مظاهرة وما في حدا بنضرب من أجهزة الأمن الوقائي
This is the first time a protest has taken place in Hebron when nobody was beaten by the Preventive Security Services

Hafez Omar, a Palestinian activist and artist, tweeted [ar]:

@hafezomar:لأول مرة منذ العام ١٩٣٦ يتظاهر الفلسطينيون من أجل لقمة العيش!! العار لمن يريدنا أن ننسى فلسطين جريا وراء رغيف الخبز…
This is the first time since 1936 that the Palestinians have protested for the sake of the cost of living! Shame on whoever wants us to forget Palestine and run after a loaf of bread…

Twitter was also flooded with funny slogans by Palestinian protesters. Rana Baker tweeted [ar]:

@RanaGaza: من أجمل الشعارات التي رفعت اليوم في فلسطين ضد حكومة ‎‫فياض‬‏ و غلاء الأسعار: “صرت أنزل ع السوق أعمل Like و أروح.” ‎‫‬‏
One of the best banners raised today in Palestine against Fayyad's government and the high prices: “Nowadays when I go to the market, I just ‘like’ and go home!”

Another banner was captured by Lamees Suradi:

@lames7:أحلى تعليق من نابلس اذا مع الفقرا مش واقفين ولا مع الاسرى واقفين فهمونا ليش بعدكم قاعدين!
The nicest comment from Nablus: “If you are not standing with the poor then you are not standing with the prisoners either; please explain to us why are you still in power!”

Twitter user iPalestine tweeted about an attempted self-immolation by a man called Hussein Qahwaji [ar]:

@PFLP67: مواطن قام بسكب البنزين على جسده وجسد ابنته البالغة من العمر 5 سنوات وحاول إحراق نفسه لكن المواطنين منعوه بالقوة.
A citizen poured gasoline on his body and that of his 5-year-old daughter and tried to set himself on fire, but others stopped him from doing so by force.

Some reports said that Qahwaji's daughter suffers from cancer, and is actually being treated in Jordan, and that he could not afford to visit her.

It wasn't the first case of a Palestinian using self-immolation as a protest. On September 2, 17-year-old Ehab Abu al-Nada died in Gaza after he set himself on fire, maybe in imitation of the Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi. Ehab Abu al-Nada had left school and used to work for 13 hours a day for just 30 shekels (about US$ 7.4) in order to help his father with family expenses.

The incident gained a lot of attention, especially after a photo was published of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh with Ihab's father; Haniyeh visited to give him “emergency aid” of US$ 2,000 after Ehab's death.

Many wonder if this new movement will continue, and whether it could spread to other towns and cities. John Lyndon asked:

@johnlyndon1: Self immolation in Gaza; Fayyad effigy burning in Hebron; protests in major West Bank cities. Is spring arriving late in #Palestine?

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