World Bulletin / News Desk
Palestinians protesting a rising cost of living in the West Bank pelted a government building with stones and burned tyres in the streets on Monday.
Israel frequently demolishes development projects and has not implemented provisions in the Paris Protocol of 1994 to allow Palestinians access to Israeli markets. Israel's control of the West Bank's borders hinders the export market, and restrictions on imports limit domestic industries.
Israel has serially withheld the payments import duties as punishment for past Palestinian political maneuvers, such as negotiations with Hamas or UN statehood initiatives.
Riot police were deployed outside the building which was attacked in Hebron by more than a 100 youths. Elsewhere in the occupied West Bank protesters blocked the main entrances to cities, setting tyres ablaze.
Earlier on Monday more than a thousand Palestinians had joined a rally in Hebron.
Public transport workers also staged a strike across the small territory to demand a cut in fuel costs, preventing many people from getting to their work, while a number of schools reported low attendance.
Taxi drivers blocked the street in front of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's office in the West Bank administrative capital Ramallah, while dozens of youths urged him to "leave, leave," echoing a slogan made popular in the Arab Spring.
According to Nasser Younis, head of the West Bank union of public transport, more than 24,000 drivers are on strike.
Younis told Ma’an news agency that the union would meet later Monday to discuss future moves, and warned of more protests that if the Palestinian government does not comply with the drivers' demands.
Demonstrations erupted across the West Bank over the past week, protesting the rising prices of basic commodities including fuel.
The government is subsidizing fuel to assuage price increases, but a 5 percent hike in the price of fuel has angered transport workers.
An onlooker in Bethlehem, Muhammad Riziq, said that seeing streets empty except for rocks and burning tires brought back memories of the first Palestinian intifada in the late 1980s.
In a move that could spark further trouble, Palestinian Finance Minister Nabil Kassis said on Monday that civil servants earning over 2,000 shekels ($502) a month would only receive part of their August pay because of an on-going cash crisis.
The PA's financial woes, caused in part by a fall in aid donations, especially from Gulf states, has delayed salary payments for 153,000 civil servants several times already in 2012, with no solution in sight. ($1 = 3.979 shekels)
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