Palestinians storm streets in protest of economic stagnation
September 11, 2012
Thousands of Palestinians clashed with police in protests over the economic stagnation caused by strict Israeli trade controls and a decline in Western aid. Officers fired tear gas and beat back protesters who had blocked roads with burning tires.
In this year’s largest display yet of public discontent with the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians across the West Bank voiced their unhappiness with recently implemented austerity measures.
The most violent clashes occurred in the city of Hebron, where hundreds of youths attempted to storm a police station, pelting it with rocks. Officers in riot gear responded, beating protesters back with truncheons and tear gas.
Demonstrators voiced anger over rising prices and unpaid salaries amid new austerity measures introduced by the government.
“Nobody is able to live, except the big officials. We have to pressure this government to change,” Sami Saleh, a 57-year-old taxi driver said to AFP.
The majority of public discontent was directed against Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Protesters in Hebron hurled shoes at a poster of the US-educated politician with the words ‘Depart Fayyad’ scrawled underneath. Activists then tore the poster down, trampled it and set it on fire.
Some protesters also called for the removal of President Mahmoud Abbas.
In response to the violent clashes PM Fayyad has lowered the price of fuel. Previously, the price of petrol in Palestine was $8.18 per gallon, more than double the US $3.59 per gallon.
PM Fayyad says claimed that the austerity measures were due to a budgetary shortfall caused by the failure of the US and Arab countries to deliver an expected $1.2 billion in financial aid.
Washington froze financial aid to the Palestinian Authority last year after it went against US wishes and made a bid for statehood in the United Nations. Obama lifted the freeze in April, but the funds have yet to arrive.
The Palestinian Authority has been unable to pay employees’ salaries for the last few months due to the aid default. The group employs some 150,000 civil servants, who are now struggling to make ends meet in the downturn.
‘Palestine with its hands tied behind its back’
Economic factors are the catalyst for the dissatisfaction with the Palestinian Authority’s “inaction” in a number of pressing matters, political analyst Elias Zananiri said in an interview with RT.
“On the level of negotiations with Israel nothing is happening, there is frustration among the Palestinians. On the level of reconciliation with Hamas nothing is happening,” Zananiri said. “Nothing is moving on.”
He cited the trade disparity between Israel and Palestine as one of the root causes of the current economic woes.
The Palestinians buy an estimated $5 billion in products and services from Israel, while Israel buys only $50 million from Palestine, he said.
Only when Palestine rules itself will it be able to thrive as a country. A crumbling economy, unlivable cities, food shortages, limited transportation & education opportunities are a direct result of the Israeli apartheid, funded nearly entirely by the United States. Palestinians have no other choice but to fight back.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”
The Palestinian Olympic Team
“Waiting for you, hero!” is what is written on the ball Sarsak is carrying during his release celebrations.
Israelis and Palestinians sit in front of Israeli army in an act of civil disobedience, to protest Israel’s planned destruction of the entire village of Susya and the army’s suppression of freedom of movement for Palestinian residents
Over 500 Israelis and Palestinians from near and far gathered in Susya (southern West Bank) on Friday to protest plans by Israeli authorities to demolish the Palestinian village in its entirety. Despite being a peaceful and nonviolent demonstration, the army fired stun grenades, tear gas, and threatened to use “skunk” water. One protestor was injured in the head by a stun grenade and required stitches.
Susya – located in Area C of the West Bank under full Israeli control – is under threat of destruction, following the June 7 interim injunction by the High Court of Justice to stop construction in the village, and subsequent Civil Administration orders for the 52 structures that comprise it. (Read more about Susya here.)
Palestinian and Israeli protestors attempted to walk to the archeological site developed by Israel in Susya, from which the Palestinian residents were originally expelled in 1986 after Israeli archeologists found the remnants of a synagogue. The army quickly announced that it was an illegal protest and demanded we turn back and go home. They used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowds, resulting in one injury. The army also had truck on hand to fire “skunk” water, which they threatened to use but ultimately did not. There were no arrests.
The relatively large turnout of support for the tiny Palestinian village was the result of successful coordination between Palestinian individuals and committees from all over the West Bank, including Ma’asara, Hebron, Beit Jala, Bethlehem and Bil’in. Abdullah Abu Rahmah, leader of the grassroots unarmed Palestinian resistance movement against Israel’s security barrier in Bil’in attended Friday’s protest. Several Israeli anti-occupation activist groups – among them Ta’ayush, Combatants for Peace, Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah and Rabbis for Human Rights - organized six buses from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem bringing some 300 Israeli protestors.
The beautiful Jana Tamimi from the village of Nabi Saleh, holding the Palestinian flag before the demonstration began today (June/15/2012). She is such a trooper.
#PalHunger LONG LIVE PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE!
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