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Man attempts to set himself on fire in Gaza amid crackdown on street vendors

March 19, 2017 5:20 P.M. (Updated: March 19, 2017 10:43 P.M.)
Onlookers gather after man attempts to set himself on fire in Khan Yunis
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Palestinian police in Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip prevented a man from setting himself on fire in a local market on Sunday, amid a police campaign to remove street vendors' carts from the market.

Witnesses said they saw the man pour gasoline on his body and try to set himself ablaze in an apparent suicide attempt before police intervened. The man was unharmed.

Locals said that the man owned a street vending cart that was seized by police during the raid.

The majority of the nearly two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border. The blockade has plunged residents into extreme poverty where some of the highest unemployment rates in the world are recorded -- reaching 42 percent last year.

A similar incident occurred in January in the occupied West Bank, when a Palestinian woman sustained moderate burns after she set fire to herself in front of a police station to protest the removal of a a vendor stand used by her husband.

Palestinians in the West Bank also suffer from crippling unemployment -- albeit to a much lesser extent than in Gaza -- which reached 17 percent last year, as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to rights groups.
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