18-Yr-Old Sets Himself Ablaze Over Poverty

Palestinian Sufian Abu Nada holds a picture of his son Ihab Abu Nada at his home in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012.

Palestinian Sufian Abu Nada holds a picture of his son Ihab Abu Nada at his home in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012.

A young man has died after setting himself on fire in the Gaza Strip, apparently in protest at economic hardship in the Palestinian enclave, the family and police said on Monday.

Ehab Abu Nada, 18, left his home on Thursday after an argument with his father, who had urged him to find work to help feed his poor family.

Frustrated in his job hunt, Abu Nada doused himself in petrol and set himself alight inside Gaza’s main Shifa hospital.

His neighbours suggested he might have chosen to immolate himself at the hospital because he had wanted to make a gesture rather than kill himself, but medics there could not save him.

He was pronounced dead on Sunday.

“He left to seek work and he did not come back. My heart was shattered,” his weeping father told a local radio station.

“We live in a miserable condition. We live in a rented house and I hardly can afford the rent,’’ he added.

A police official from the Islamist Hamas movement, which rules Gaza, said an investigation was under way to dtermine the motive of Abu Nada’s death, as he cited unemployment as the possible motive.

Abu Nada’s suicide was another sign of frustration over the lack of work in the coastal territory, where a another Gazan man set himself ablaze last year in despair but survived.

The teenager’s death is reminiscent of the self-immolation of the impoverished Tunisian fruit-seller Mohamed Bouazizi
in December 2010, which sparked an uprising that toppled Tunisia’s president and ignited protests across the Arab world.

A UN report published last week said poverty stood at 40 per cent among Gaza’s 1.6 million people, of whom 80 per cent depended on outside aid.

It also said nearly 30 per cent of the people were jobless.

It was unclear how Abu Nada’s death would affect the policies of Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who took over Gaza in 2007 after a brief civil war with forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, which holds sway in the West Bank.
(Reuters/NAN)

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