Masked men in Gaza enforce prices in street markets

February 29, 2024 3:49 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Armed, masked men in Gaza have started patrols to stop traders profiteering in Rafah, where more than a million displaced Palestinians are taking shelter from Israel’s air and ground campaign, a member of the vigilante group said.

Nearly five months into the war, prices have soared in Gaza with all commercial imports cut off when hostilities began on Oct. 7, and only limited quantities of humanitarian aid coming in.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people now live in Rafah near the border crossing with Egypt, mostly in tents and other temporary shelters, after fleeing the devastation in other parts of the enclave.

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Photographs on social media showed men in ski masks with hoods pulled over their heads standing next to market stalls.

In one photograph two of the men held assault rifles. In another photograph, six men brandished sticks.

The men with the sticks also had headbands with the slogan in Arabic “The Committee of public protection”.

A man who described himself as a member of the group, and whom Reuters contacted by phone, said their action was necessary to enforce law and order because police no longer patrolled the streets after being targeted by Israeli strikes.

Their actions were intended “to monitor the prices and punish those who exploit the needs of the people,” said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing Israeli reprisals.