RAMALLAH, September 10 (JMCC) - Palestinians in the West Bank observed a widespread strike on Monday, halting traffic and closing stores in the largest protest yet against increasing prices, reported the
The move followed similar smaller protests, indicating that the unrest is not likely to die down.
Palestinians say their salaries can't keep up with the rising price of living and blame Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for the economic policies of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which has partial self-rule over Palestinians in the West Bank. But Fayyad's government is grappling with a sharp budgetary shortfall because the U.S. and Arab countries that sustain it haven't delivered promised aid money. And he hasn't been able to pay full salaries in months.
"Nobody is able to live, except the big officials," said Sami Saleh, a 57-year-old taxi driver, one of hundreds across the West Bank to turn out for the rallies. "We have to pressure this government to change."
As he spoke, youths hollered and cheered as they set tires alight behind him, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and blocking the main road from the West Bank city of Ramallah to the nearby city of Jerusalem. Nearby, striking taxi and bus drivers daubed a donkey yellow and scrawled "taxi" on it.
The strikes touched all large Palestinian urban centers of the West Bank, from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south. Throughout, public transport drivers blocked roads, youths burned tires and some shops closed their doors.
Some of the protesters demanded the resignation of Fayyad, who is respected internationally for having cleaned up the corrupt practices of previous Palestinian governments and for putting international financial standards in place in the West Bank.
Others also demanded government subsidies for basic goods like food and fuel, a minimum wage, the repeal of a recent round of take hikes and the cancellation of a Palestinian trade agreement with Israel. Monday's protests followed a series of small but growing strikes over the past few weeks.