Unemployed Palestinians protest: ''Where are the millions?''

Published July 2nd, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

More than 4,000 Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza City on Monday, July 1, in protest against the socio-economic meltdown in the occupied territories. Israel has closed its borders since the outbreak of violence in October 2000, preventing Palestinian workers from commuting to their jobs. 

 

The demonstrators rallied in front of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Gaza offices and urged the Palestinian Authority to create jobs and provide welfare for the unemployed. They also called for international help to alleviate their economic hardships.  

 

Arafat's security guards, unwilling to use force against the unarmed protesters, let the crowd break into Arafat's compound. Arafat has been confined to his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah for the past week. 

 

The demonstrators called "We want jobs! We want food!” and carried banners reading in Arabic: "Keep your hands off our children’s food. AP quoted participants as saying that Palestinian officials were enriching themselves at the expense of the poor. "We love him [Arafat] and support him fully, but there are some people around him who are stealing our rights and ignoring our demands." 

 

Of the 1.4 million Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip, 42.7 percent were unemployed during the first quarter of the year 2002, the International Labor Office (ILO) estimated. UN figures indicate the percentage of unemployed and unable to work in Palestinian society currently stands at 78 percent of the labor force. Before October 2000, some 125,000 Palestinians crossed into Israel every day, earning a total of $3.4 million. — (menareport.com)

© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)


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