Photo Credit: Majdi Fathi/TPS
Rally against Middle East peace plan in Gaza, Feb. 27, 2020

Residents in the Gaza Strip, including many young people, have ended their lives because of the difficulties of living in the Strip, TPS has learned.

Ahmed Khalidi, a local young man, was taken to the Indonesian hospital in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after trying to commit suicide by swallowing pills. Urgent medical treatment saved his life. Khalidi was saved; however, many young people in the Gaza Strip have put an end to their lives in recent months due to the dreadful living conditions in the Gaza Strip, under the Hamas regime.

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This weekend, 23-year-old Sleiman Ajuri committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Ajuri was one of the activists of the “Want to Live” protest movement, which came out against Hamas about a year and a half ago and its people were strongly oppressed.

Ibrahim Yassin, 21, also died of his wounds after burning himself a few days ago. Like them, Ayman Al-Ghul, a 24-year-old from Shati camp, also ended his life by jumping off a building.

Hours before Al-Ghul put an end to his life, a 30-year-old woman attempted to commit suicide as a result of a family dispute. She is in critical condition. The young woman is the wife of the leader of the extreme Beit Al-Makdis Salafi group; she had previously tried to end her life by hanging, following her husband’s marriage to another woman.

Another 35-year-old woman died by suicide a few days ago, also due to family issues.

The list of residents of the Gaza Strip who were registered as dying “in unclear circumstances” include a teacher, a 65-year-old woman and a 90-year-old elderly woman who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Many young people, including teenagers, have died by suicide through jumping from rooftops or self-immolation.

Some of the suicides occurred in Hamas prisons and interrogation facilities and a source in the Gaza Strip told TPS that at least three people had committed suicide in torture cells.

The Gaza Strip has recorded a sharp increase in suicide rates in recent months. Most of it is due to emotional stress, the poor socio-economic situation and poverty.

The Human Rights Center in the Gaza Strip claims there has been a noticeable rise in suicide in recent months and that too many cases are defined as “death in unnatural circumstances,” far beyond local statistics.

In April this year, eight such cases occurred; in March there were 35 cases and in February, 11 cases occurred.

Clerics in the Gaza Strip have recently addressed their sermons to the youth and have come out against the phenomenon of suicide, which is forbidden according to Shari’a Law in Islam.

One of the clerics in Gaza said, “Palestinians should not be surprised at the phenomenon, since a Palestinian boy, before he commits suicide, is slaughtered a thousand times during his life due to the difficult circumstances.”

Sources in Gaza say that the most common causes of suicide are unemployment, poverty and depression and emotional stress, as well as family conflicts.

Various elements, including the Human Rights Center, complain that both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are responsible for the alarming phenomenon. With regard to data in the Gaza Strip, they state that Hamas hides information in the absence of professional treatment for the phenomenon.

Over the weekend, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror groups released messages expressing grave concern over the increase in suicide rates and attributed the responsibility for the suicides to the Hamas government and the PA.

The DFLP stated that the heavy taxes, the delay in salaries, as well as poverty, hunger and unemployment and the closure of the Gaza Strip and military events, are all the main causes of the severe phenomenon.

An official in the Gaza Strip told TPS that life in the Gaza Strip has led to a steep rise in suicides and emigration from the Strip.

Last year, TPS published an investigation on emigration from Gaza that found many young people in the Gaza Strip are looking for a better future in Europe. They embark on “death journeys” that pass through Egypt, Mauritania, Mali, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, France and Belgium, which is considered a desirable destination for young people.

Various estimates published at the end of 2018 showed that there was an increase in Gaza residents leaving the Strip. About 36,000 left the Rafah crossing, but only 17,000 returned to the Strip, and it appears that those who left the Gaza Strip decided to emigrate abroad.

Official data from the Gaza Strip, including those from the Bar Association which handles requests, indicate that in 2018, 15,600 exit permits were issued for those seeking to renew their passports to begin the journey from Gaza to Europe. This is an average figure in recent years. The Bar Association says that 52,000 passport renewal applications have been registered in the Gaza Strip over the past three years.

Belgium is one of the sought-after destinations for Gaza residents and about a year ago the Palestinian Authority Arab community in Brussels numbered over 22,000 young people, most of them from the Gaza Strip.

According to data from Palestinian Authority organizations in Belgium, most of the immigrants are students in their mid-twenties who have not been able to get into the job market after graduating.

Nader Abu Amra, chairman of the Palestinian Youth Association in Belgium, said the figures indicate that 70 percent of Palestinians who arrive in Belgium sign a waiver of their Palestinian citizenship as part of the local procedure.

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