Gaza Vendor Attempts Suicide after ‘Harassment’ by Municipality

Mohammed Abu Asi. (Via Ma'an)

A Palestinian man in the Gaza Strip attempted to commit suicide on Saturday night to protest “harassment” by Gaza municipality officials, a relative told Ma’an.

The sister of Muhammed Abu Asi said that her brother, who operates a corn stand near Gaza City beach, was taken to hospital Saturday night after he tried to killed himself by ingesting poison.

Abu Asi, who is in intensive care, reportedly attempted the suicide to protest what his sister said was repeated harassment by Gaza municipality inspectors while he was trying to run his stand selling boiled corn, coffee and tea by the beach.

The stand, which had a number of chairs around it, was torn down and removed completely a few months ago by inspectors, Abu Asi’s sister told Ma’an.

After the stand was destroyed, a charity organization reimbursed Abu Asi and helped him build a new stand, his sister said, but she alleged that inspectors have recently started to harass her brother again.

The Gaza municipality has denied the allegations.

The Gaza municipality said in a statement on Sunday that Abu Asi’s stand “hasn’t been harmed” and added that while the municipality “can’t be held responsible for what happened with Muhammad, [they] strongly sympathize with him and wish him a quick recovery.”

Abu Asi’s sister blamed the mayor of Gaza City personally for what has happened to her brother and said that the family will take legal action against municipality officials.

The Gaza municipality said it had not harassed Abu Asi, but that there are rules that the municipality asks vendors to abide by, like not setting up chairs around stands.

“What Gaza municipality does is organize these stands, despite the fact that they are illegal. As long as they keep the place clean and do not breach the law, we keep them because we take into account the dire conditions people are living.”

The statement added that “there are currently 30 stands on the seaside, but what we don’t allow is that they build shacks and fill the place with chairs.”

(Ma’an)

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