Angry protests grip West Bank

2012-09-10 21:25

Hebron - About 2 000 Palestinians angry at the rising cost of living flooded the streets of Hebron on Monday, as public transport in the West Bank ground to a halt in a general strike.

Clouds of black smoke poured into the air across the Israeli-occupied territory as furious protesters set light to tyres, kicking off a second week of protests against the spiralling cost of living, high petrol prices and unemployment.

In the southern city of Hebron, demonstrators took to the streets in the early morning, blocking main roads with boulders and burning tyres, which later degenerated into mass stone throwing at cars and the municipal building, an AFP correspondent reported.

They also hurled stones at Palestinian police and Israeli troops in the area.

Public transport was at a complete halt throughout the West Bank as union bosses called a mass strike over the rising cost of petrol which has risen from six to eight shekels per litre in the past two months (from $1.50 to $2.00).

Empty streets

With no buses, minibuses or taxis in operation, the streets were empty, and private cars were also barred from entering towns and cities by makeshift roadblocks.

At the Qalandia crossing between Ramallah and Jerusalem, small groups of bus and taxi drivers were on the lookout for any strike breakers.

"People need to appreciate what we are doing and they should support us because you shouldn't be paying seven shekels to get here from Ramallah," one driver said, without giving his name, saying the current price of 3.5 shekels was set to double.

So far, the police have looked on passively as thousands of demonstrators have protested over the past week, with spokesperson Adnan Damiri saying they were not planning to intervene unless things got out of hand.

"We completely understand these protests, the president and the leadership's instructions were clear and affirmed the peaceful nature of these protests," he said.

"We are not interested in clashing with the people because we don't want to complicate things, but at the same time we are seeking to maintain the peace."


However the protests triggered sharp criticism of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority from the rival Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip, with spokesperson Fawzi Barhum saying they were a "natural reaction" to its "political and economic failure".

"Abu Mazen [Abbas] has to respond quickly to the fair demands of the protesters and make them a priority because responding to their daily needs is an act of nationalism," he said.

Much of the public anger over the cost of living has been directed at Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his government, with many protesters calling for his resignation.

On Sunday, Fayyad and a group of ministers met with business and union leaders, the private sector and civil society groups to find ways of reducing prices and regulating salaries.

The recommendations were to be put to the cabinet on Tuesday.

The Palestinian Authority has also said it is seeking talks with Israel on amending the Paris Protocol, a key accord which has a direct impact on local taxes and fuel prices.

But an Israeli official on Monday said the Palestinians were "not serious" about changing the accord and only looking to shift the blame for their economic problems onto Israel.

  • jojo.balela.1 - 2012-09-10 23:17

    Our cost of living is also starting to get out of hand. We should also protest, but before it becomes too late to actually do something about it

  • azaa.azoot - 2012-09-11 00:07

    What do you expect???. First you want to wipe Isreal of the face of the earth,shelling them with 1000's of rockets , until the Isreali's haven't got a choice than to practicaly close the borders While you dear Palistinians forgot that about 70% of your people is dependant on a wage from Isreal. You got what you wished for . the only good news is that you are killing each other now instead of innocent Isrealis , which you should have done from the beginning . don't complain that you are starving , be proud of it , you worked flippen hard for it

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-11 04:58

      Considering Israeli expansion, who is wiping who off the face of the earth? Social hardships experienced by Palestinians are compounded by the fact that they live under an illegal occupation as such aren't able to engage in any meaningful internatonal commerce. This is not a country, because Israel and the US will not allow it to be. So it can't have a cogent economic system. There are oligarchs in Palestine who make money off the occupation, but by and large, the majority is poor.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-11 05:16

      Israel was created in 1948 from 52% of the land formerly occupied by the Jewish and Palestinian people, and Palestine 43%. Most of the Israeli territory was the Negev Desert. Jerusalem fell into neither territory. Palestinians with their unelected, self-serving neighbors declared war on Israel the very next day. In the 1960's they even invaded Israel twice. Full military invasions. The result: Israel survived and pushed them back, gaining territory in the process. This is the origin of what Fidel wrongly calls "Israeli expansion". But then he calls Nelson Mandela a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. There have been almost daily attacks by Palestinians, incited by their self-serving unelected backers. Palestinians even teach their children at Kindergarten to attack Israel, rather than be peaceful. Children. Kindergarten. From day one, and even today it's wage war on Israel. Israel defends herself. Yes sometimes going too far, which is unacceptable, but self-defense nonetheless. All that needs to happen is for Palestinians to choose peace side by side with Israel. This is more likely going forward now because the unelected dictators are being removed from power by their people, one by one. They will no longer use the Palestinians for their own internal political ploys.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-11 05:11

    For those who are interested in a more in depth study of this problem! "The report states that Palestinians can use only 6% of the land in the area, while settlers, who account for 13% of the population, have control over 86% of its land." I'm expecting the usual apologists to give me all the reasons why the Palestinians should not be allowed to develop self sufficiency, and be poor under their own efforts (or lack thereof) than be well fed and rich under some foreign domination.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-11 05:15

      No apologist here, just someone who is aghast that anyone would believe Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. Surely there can be little value in anything that comes out of that mindset.

      steele.oyle - 2012-09-11 08:58

      That's because the apologist still believe that there are no occupied Palestinian territories even though the UN calls in "OPT", and that Iraq possessed WMD's. How can we take you seriously.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-11 09:41

      Whether you take me seriously or not, I don't care either way as I'm not trying to convert you.

  • azaa.azoot - 2012-09-11 19:21

    pangas before rockdrill in South Africa rockets before food in Palistine. Taliban before freedom in Afganistan Guns before food in Somalia , Eritrea ,Sudan and to many african jokes to name You chose your destiny. Don't complain , when you were hammering your plows into swords , you knew what the consequences is going to be . So starve proudly , you deserve it .I am one idiot that's not going to give you any sympathy. Peacefull transitions can occur , look at Ireland , South Africa in Mandela's days (not today because its worse than Nigeria),Myanmar ect So stop complaining , you choosed to starve , now starve with dignity and not like sissies

      Fidel - 2012-09-11 19:45

      All of the countries or people you mentioned above don't mind starving with dignity, so long as you westerners stopped interfering in their business, which is what you have been unable to do for over 500 years now.

      azaa.azoot - 2012-09-11 20:13

      Fidel You are a Troll , the west does not want to interfere with this dignified starvers , BUT they are NOT starving with dignity . They are on their knees with begging bowls kissing food aid organisations from the west's FEET for food. They trample each other to DEATH to reach the western food relief agencies. But wait,the saviours of Africa is on their way , the mighty chinese dragon . Like Malema stated that the people were better of under apatheid that the goverment they elected themselfs , They will look back from under their chinese masters and long for the days that the west still interfered to help them better themselfs. The western nations budged for Africa and interest in the continent is steadely waning over the last 20 years .

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