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Desperate act by Palestinian teen recalls action that spurred Arab spring

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
9/10/2012 (6 years ago)
Catholic Online (

Boy's self-immolation in refugee camp likened to Tunisian teen's suicide that triggered revolutions

Eighteen-year-old Ihab Abu Nader, who resided in the miserable refugee camp of Al-Shati on the beach of Gaza City, unable to escape the poverty and lack of opportunity doused himself with petrol and set himself on fire last week. Dying from his burns, the incident recalled a similar incident in Tunisia that led to the popular revolt of the Arab Spring.

The self-immolation of Ihab Abu Nader has triggered shockwaves of soul-searching. Many wonder if his suicide will have the same effect as the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in December, 2010 that triggered the Arab Spring.

The self-immolation of Ihab Abu Nader has triggered shockwaves of soul-searching. Many wonder if his suicide will have the same effect as the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in December, 2010 that triggered the Arab Spring.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (
9/10/2012 (6 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Ihab Abu Nader, suicide, immolation, Gaza Strip, Arab Spring

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The teen's homeland is a dismal place where 90,000 Palestinians are packed into less than one-third of a square mile. Alleys are littered with rubbish and adorned with graffiti. Water and electricity supplies are intermittent, if at all.

The second of six children, Ihab Abu Nader's dream was to finish school, get a job and save up money to buy a motorcycle. After an anguished telephone plea begging his mother for forgiveness, he doused himself in petrol in the middle of the street and set himself on fire.

Bystanders tried to extinguished the flames with water and blankets. Rushed to a hospital, the troubled teen died days later from massive third-degree burns.

The self-immolation of Ihab Abu Nader has triggered shockwaves of soul-searching. Many wonder if his suicide will have the same effect as the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in December, 2010 that triggered the Arab Spring.

Two more Palestinians tried to set themselves on fire days later at anti-government demonstrations but were saved by passers-by.

"It's a huge tragedy which should really open the eyes of the rest of the world about the situation of Gaza under the blockade," Karl Schembri of Oxfam's Gaza office says.

To placate the boy's family, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas-appointed prime minister of Gaza's unofficial government and a resident of Al-Shati camp, visited Ihab's father Sufian and mother Raeda Abu Nader, during the family's three days of official mourning.

Haniyeh invited them to his home and promised them a small plot of land, a job for their oldest son, Mohammed, and a Ł1,200 grant.

"I don't believe my son wanted to kill himself. The people who tried to save him said he was screaming at them to put out the fire. I think it was a cry for help. I hope that other young people will take his suffering as a warning," his father said.

"I don't know what I will do without him. I feel as though I have lost my arms and my legs.

"Haniyeh is the only Palestinian official who has given us any support, but it's still not enough. I have Ł5,000 of debts. After I pay my rent and service the loans I have taken out, I have just Ł30 a month left for food and everything else. How will I manage?

"If I could, I would leave here tomorrow. I am ready to take my family and go to any other country that will take us as refugees. I see no future here. There is no work. I don't want to lose the rest of my children because of this terrible poverty."



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