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.


Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

A Turkish soldier is seen in an armoured personnel carrier at a check point near the Turkish-Syrian border in Kilis province, Turkey. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

  • Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia
  • Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained

SYDNEY: A Turkish court rejected an Australian request to extradite a citizen it believes is a top recruiter for the Daesh group, Australia’s foreign minister said on Friday, in a setback for Canberra’s efforts to prosecute him at home.
Melbourne-born Neil Prakash has been linked to several Australia-based attack plans and has appeared in Daesh videos and magazines. Australia has alleged that he actively recruited Australian men, women and children and encouraged acts of militancy.
“We are disappointed that the Kilis Criminal Court in Turkey has rejected the request to extradite Neil Prakash to Australia,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.
“We will continue to engage with Turkish authorities as they consider whether to appeal the extradition decision,” she said.
Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained there nearly two years ago.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported from Kilis that Prakash was initially ordered to be freed but was later charged under Turkish law with being a Daesh member.
A spokesman at Turkey’s foreign ministry in Istanbul had no immediate comment and the Turkish embassy in Australia did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a militant group.
Canberra announced financial sanctions against Prakash in 2015, including anyone giving him financial assistance, with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
The Australian government wrongly reported in 2016, based on US intelligence, that Prakash had been killed in an air strike in Mosul, Iraq. It later confirmed that Prakash was detained in Turkey.
Australia raised its national terror threat level to “high” for the first time in 2015, citing the likelihood of attacks by Australians radicalized in Iraq or Syria.
A staunch ally of the United States and its actions against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, Australia believes more than 100 of its citizens were fighting in the region.