Rash Of Gaza Suicides Points To Rising Poverty

From Times-Of-Israel:
Media in Gaza reported on Friday that a Palestinian fell to his death from the sixth floor of a building in Rafah in the southern Strip. Less than 24 hours later, reports emerged to the effect that the man, who was in his 20s, had committed suicide.

A week earlier, a 33-year-old Palestinian, a resident of Bani Suhaila, near Khan Younis, doused himself with flammable liquid and set himself on fire. At first it was reported that he had done so because of a financial dispute with his father. His parents denied this.

A few days before that, there were reports of another young Palestinian man, from the center of the Gaza Strip, found dead in a field. The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.

Is this a coincidental accumulation of suicides by young males with mental issues, or are we looking at a rise in suicides stemming from the dreadful economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza?

Websites associated with Fatah claim that the worrying trend indeed stems from the dire reality in the Hamas-run Strip. These sites counted seven suicides over the past month, and more than 20 attempted suicides. And this in a society that is for the most part religious and conservative, and considers suicide to be forbidden.

While Fatah is likely trying to inflate the phenomenon, it may be that there is something deeper at work.

The despair in the Strip, as opposed perhaps to the West Bank, shows no sign of abating. “The humanitarian situation in the Strip is the worst that it has been in the past nine years,” says Y., an old friend. “There is no hope, only despair. Young people look around and they see nothing. Gaza is like a large prison. You cannot leave. But those who stay have no future.”

Y. goes on to say that every year some 20,000 students finish their undergraduate studies. “What do you think they can do? Nothing. There is no work. The unemployment level here is horrific. Poverty levels are unprecedented. Every year is a new low. There is no electricity and no drinkable water in the taps.”

The ramifications of the hardship in Gaza, as in the past, do not stop at the border. It is precisely the humanitarian crisis there that could bring Gazans to pressure Hamas. and especially its military wing, to attack Israel — perhaps in the hope of improving the economic situation. That was precisely what happened on the eve of the 2014 war there, when Hamas failed to pay its men and expected a war to bring about a lifting or easing of the Israeli security blockade.

Many in Gaza claim that the “street” in the Strip does not seek an escalation. They may be right. Yet anyone who has been listening in recent weeks to the voices coming out of Gaza has heard a significant number of people clamoring for war.

It seems the humanitarian situation is so bad that the public is willing to endure another war for the small chance of breaking the blockade.

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