Signs of increasing suicides in devastated Gaza

Updated 30 September 2015
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Signs of increasing suicides in devastated Gaza

GAZA CITY: Muammar Quider was set to marry, but he reached his breaking point as he dealt with the unique pressures of life in the Gaza Strip.
The 21-year-old Palestinian recently tried to kill himself by swallowing rat poison.
“All doors were closed for me,” he said after having survived and been treated, explaining that police had repeatedly arrested him and shut down his fruit stand, depriving him of an income.
Signs have emerged of an increase in suicides and suicide attempts in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave run with an iron fist by militant movement Hamas and devastated by three wars with Israel since 2008.
It is impossible to obtain official figures on the subject, which remains taboo in a territory where traditional and religious values dominate. Police insist that it has not become widespread. But a source within the security services told AFP on condition of anonymity that the numbers were “frightening,” saying there were cases on a “near-daily” basis.
Doctors have also expressed alarm over the number of patients having ingested toxic substances, but they say the police have the final word on the causes of such poisonings. Mohammed Abu Assi has been among them, having spent several days in a coma after swallowing poison. He said that “at 30 years old, I did not even have enough to feed my young children.”
“I preferred to die instead of seeing them die in front of me,” he said.
Gaza is filled with desperation, particularly following last summer’s conflict that left more than 100,000 people homeless and killed more than 2,200.
The small territory of 1.8 million people faces an Israeli blockade and a closed border with Egypt, and rebuilding following the 2014 war has been extremely slow. Access to water and electricity is limited, while the unemployment rate is among the highest in the world at 42 percent, according to the World Bank.
More than 60 percent of young people do not have work, while 39 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and 80 percent depend on various forms of aid.
The United Nations development agency said recently that Gaza could become uninhabitable for residents within five years.
“The social, health and security-related ramifications of the high population density and overcrowding are among the factors that may render Gaza unliveable by 2020,” it said.
The crisis is so acute that 52 percent of Gazans want to leave the territory, a recent poll showed, but closed borders prevent many from doing so. Some have attempted the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean to try to reach Europe.


Assad accused of ‘using urban development law to carry out ethnic cleansing’

Pro-government forces stand in the destroyed Thalateen Street in the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the capital Damascus on May 24, 2018, as civilians return to see their homes after the regime seized the camp and adjacent neighborhoods of Tadamun and Hajar al-Aswad earlier in the week from the Daesh group. (AFP / LOUAI BESHARA)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Assad accused of ‘using urban development law to carry out ethnic cleansing’

  • he so-called “Law 10” allows the regime to acquire previously private property in which to create zoned developments, and to compensate the owners with shares in the new projects.
  • Many of the displaced have lost the necessary paperwork, are struggling financially or may not learn of the legal requirements in time.

JEDDAH: The Assad regime in Syria was accused on Saturday of using a new law on urban development to carry out and rid the country of all political opposition.

The so-called “Law 10” allows the regime to acquire previously private property in which to create zoned developments, and to compensate the owners with shares in the new projects.

However, after a seven-year war that has created more than 5 million refugees and 6 million internally displaced people, property rights are in a state of confusion. Many of the displaced have lost the necessary paperwork, are struggling financially or may not learn of the legal requirements in time.

The Assad regime is using the confusion to create a suitable environment for demographic change, Syrian opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi told Arab News. 

“The regime has a two-fold goal,” he said. “First, terrorize the opposition and supporters of the Syrian revolution so that they lose the right to their properties.

“Second, there is talk of reconstruction in Syria now. This law sends out a message to investors that their interests lie with the regime. It is an attempt to tempt companies and business people to support the regime, because the regime is the only party that approves bids and gives grants and contracts. All this merely adds to the Syrians’ plight and misery.”

Al-Aridi said the attempted land grab was being resisted by European countries, especially France and Germany. “The Syrian Negotiating Committee is also exerting a very important effort so that such an evil act will not happen,” he said. 

Also on Saturday, the US warned Damascus it would take “firm action” if the regime violates a cease-fire deal, after Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets on a southern province in advance of an expected offensive.

Al-Aridi said any such offensive would be a breach of agreements between Russia and the US on de-escalation zones, and he warned the regime and Iran against “playing games” with the US. “Such threats are part of a response to the two unanswered Israeli attacks on Iran’s military positions in Syria,” he said.

“They area also meant to divert attention from the American-Israeli intent to kick Iranian militias and forces out of Syria.”

He said the regime and Iran could do nothing without Russian support. “We don’t think the Russians are willing to provide such support, or to mess with the US or Israel. Parallel to such threats, Assad is trying to make certain reconciliation agreements with what they call ‘Syrians in liberated areas.’ We believe that they cannot do anything of the sort.”