On Monday 10 September taxi, bus and truck drivers, around 24,000, struck throughout the West Bank.
In the cities thousands of protesters filled the streets to support the strike and protest against the economic crisis, the result of unpaid pledges by the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Finance Ministry recently reported an estimated a shortfall of $1.2 billion — a quarter of the annual budget. PA employees, almost a sixth of the West Bank population in employment, have not been paid their full salaries since June.
Civil servants have struck before. Unrest has grown in recent months over the Paris Protocol which linked inflation in the West Bank to that in Israel, preventing more than a 15% difference in prices for fuel and goods.
Israel was also hit with a wave of protests last year about the high cost of living. Tax, food, fuel and housing costs skyrocketed as the Israeli Government attempted to redress the financial balance with austerity measures.
As fuel prices in the West Bank are an all-time high, it is no surprise that it was public transport workers that have led the charge.
This strike and the continuing protests are creating debate among Palestinian activists about whether or not this is a useful expression of the anger in the region.
Some are suggesting that it is a distraction from the fight against the occupation and that the energy would be better spent fighting Israel than the PA; others that the PA cannot be entirely separated from the Israeli government. The PA is Israel’s way of “outsourcing” the occupation, a group of limited power over only 40% of the West Bank and funded largely by foreign donations.
In Nablus the PA police force was sent out to suppress the street actions and numerous protesters were injured in clashes that included batons and tear gas.
Protests continue across the West Bank.
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