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Man threatens to torch himself in front of PA building

Jan. 18, 2011 10:04 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 20, 2011 10:50 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A resident of the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday threatened to set himself on fire in front of the Palestinian Authority's cabinet building.

In apparent imitations of a Tunisian whose self-torching sparked a revolution, nine people have set themselves on fire across the Arab world, including three in Egypt.

The Bethlehem resident announced his intention in a phone call to Ma'an Radio.

He said he was injured in the Israeli incursion into Bethlehem in 2001, and lost his right hand and damaged nerves in his left hand. The following year, he said, Israeli forces demolished his home and imprisoned him for six years.

Since his release, he said, the PA has not responded to his appeals for help.

He did not want to start a revolt against President Mahmoud Abbas or PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, he said, but he felt torching himself was the only way to draw attention to the plights of ex-detainees.

Ma'an Radio's host told the caller that the plan did not represent Palestinian people, who were known to resist all challenges. He also said the plan was against Islamic law, which forbids suicide. But the caller said God knew his situation and would forgive him.

The radio host contacted several officials on behalf of the caller, and passed on his request for an artificial hand.

The Minister of Social Affairs said prosthetic hands were not available in Palestine, and would cost over $40,000.
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