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Man tries to set himself on fire during electricity protest

Dec. 31, 2012 4:31 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 2, 2013 11:16 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- A man from Balata refugee camp in Nablus attempted to set himself alight on Monday in protest against recently announced measures that will no longer exempt refugees from paying electricity costs.

Jumah Abu Alifeh, 47, poured gasoline over himself in the middle of al-Shuhada square in Nablus during a protest against the electricity agreement.

Crowds of onlookers intervened before he could light the fuel, taking him away from the protest area to calm down.

Alifeh reportedly suffers from psychological conditions and has been struggling to support a family of five.

Popular committees from refugee camps in Nablus called on people to protest the new initiative signed Sunday, which will see refugees start paying for electricity usage.

Hundreds of Palestinians not classified as refugees also joined the protest in the city on Sunday demanding that they also be included in a clause of the agreement which will cancel all electricity debts from previous years.

PA premier Salam Fayyad signed the deal with representatives of refugee camps, overturning a longstanding agreement that refugees would be exempt from electricity costs.

Palestinian power companies said the gap in payments from refugees was a main reason for their accumulating debts. In the summer, Palestinian officials said Israel was threatening to cut off power over the unpaid debts, which total around $100 million after this month's tax seizure.
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