By Nour Abu Eisha
GAZA CITY (AA) – Palestinian passers-by are surprised by the sight of a 27-year old sitting inside a tent near the Unknown Soldier’s Memorial in Gaza City.
Inside the tent, Saed al-Lulo sits, wearing his black graduation cap and surrounded by leaflets calling on the Palestinian authorities to provide him with a job.
"My family is leading a miserable life," al-Lulo told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
In 2007, al-Lulo graduated from Al-Azhar University’s department of media and public relations with high hopes of finding a job that would help him provide a decent life for his nine-member family.
Ever since, however, he has failed to find any employment opportunities to make ends meet.
Two weeks ago, young Palestinians decided to stage a hunger strike to protest chronic joblessness.
"Neither my family nor I have any source of income," al-Lulo said.
For several years, he volunteered to work with a number of NGOs in the Gaza Strip in an effort to gain experience.
This, however, did not help him find work.
Finally, al-Lulo found a job in a falafel shop in Gaza City last year.
"The few pennies I make from this job helped me fulfill the needs of my family," he said.
Two months later, however, he was fired.
"Since then, I have been unable to earn a penny to feed my family," he said.
Al-Lulo criticized the failure of government institutions to tackle the problems facing Palestinian youth.
"I will not suspend my hunger strike until my demands are met," he said. "All Palestinian [university] graduates in Gaza want their right to fair employment."
Al-Lulo said he received a phone call from Ramallah-based Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah, during which the latter pledged to solve his problem.
The Gaza Strip has been reeling under a crippling Israeli embargo since 2006, when Palestinian resistance group Hamas swept Palestinian legislative elections.
In January, the Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights said the Israeli blockade had caused 43 percent of Gaza's roughly 1.9 million inhabitants to become unemployed.
According to the NGO, 40 percent of Gaza's population now lives below the poverty line while 60 percent are "food insecure".
Fifty-five percent of the Palestinians in Gaza suffer from clinical depression, it added, while 40 percent receive water for just five to eight hours every three days due to insufficient power supplies.