Syrian Regime Increases Gasoline Prices, Rations Internet Usage

Syrians queue to buy bread from a bakery in Aleppo (File photo: AFP)
Syrians queue to buy bread from a bakery in Aleppo (File photo: AFP)
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Syrian Regime Increases Gasoline Prices, Rations Internet Usage

Syrians queue to buy bread from a bakery in Aleppo (File photo: AFP)
Syrians queue to buy bread from a bakery in Aleppo (File photo: AFP)

The Syrian Ministry of Communications and Technology began Sunday implementing a decision on Internet rationing, which would result in a rise in the costs of usage.

The government also, and without any prior notice, decided to increase the price of gasoline by SYP25/liter all over Syria, reaching SYP250/liter, as the exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the US dollar stands at SYP1030.

Inflation is already high, but observers expressed fears of soaring prices after the hike in the price of gasoline.

In an attempt to appease the country’s poorest and most vulnerable population, a decree was issued on a SYP20,000 increase in the salaries of the families of “martyrs,” the missing and soldiers and policemen suffering from huge disabilities.

Internet usage was rationed, which despite its bad shape,is the only means for Syrians to stay connected amid severe power cuts, a stifling domestic gas crisis, and the deterioration in the purchasing power of more than 85 percent of the Syrian people living below the poverty line.

The Ministry of Communications and Technology began applying the new mechanism for rationing Internet usage by setting a threshold for the use of ADSL. If the user exceeds usage limit, speed is reduced.

Immediately after the announcement of the new mechanism, a storm of criticism erupted.

MP Nabil Saleh warned against its consequences, saying that he, and 10 other parliamentarians, submitted a request to interrogate Minister of Communications Iyad al-Khatib.

Saleh wrote on his Facebook page that the Ministry is looking for profits without heeding the economic and psychological consequences that its decisions would have on the people, who have been suffering from a devastating war, soaring inflation, and the loss of basic necessities and living standards.

Former Minister of Communications Amr Salem responded angrily to Saleh, defending the new decision, saying the law targets users who “unfairly” use the Internet, and exchange hundreds of videos daily.

Saleh failed to collect 10 signatures to question the Minister of Oil for depriving a large segment of the Syrian people from cooking gas. He wasn’t either able to collect enough signatures to interrogate the Minister of Internal Trade for further worsening the people’s difficult living conditions.

But the lawmaker was successful in gathering 10 signatures to interrogate the Minister of Communications over the Internet usage limit.



Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
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Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas

Israeli forces retreated from some Gaza City districts overnight after a fierce, week-long military offensive, leaving dozens of dead and wrecked homes and roads in the Palestinian enclave's biggest urban area, residents and rescue service said on Friday.

The offensive, 10 months into Israel's campaign to eliminate Hamas militants, took place as US-backed mediators sought to finalize a peace deal that would free remaining hostages taken by the militants in their cross-border rampage on Oct. 7.

According to Reuters, the Gaza Civil Emergency Service said teams had collected around 60 bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past week from the area of Tel Al-Hawa and the edges of the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City.

Both residents and rescue teams cautioned that while tanks withdrew from some areas, Israeli snipers and tanks continued to control high ground at some locations, and warned residents against trying to return to their homes in those areas.

"There are bodies scattered in the streets, dismembered bodies, there are bodies of entire families, there are also bodies inside a home of an entire family that was completely burned," Gaza Strip Civil Defense spokesperson Mahmoud Basal said in comments carried by media in Hamas-run Gaza.

The Israeli military had said on Thursday that its forces were working to dismantle Hamas capabilities in Gaza City, and that it "follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm." It said the same was not true of Hamas.

The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said they had fought fierce battles against Israeli forces, attacking them with anti-tank rockets and mortar fire, killing and wounding many. There has been no Israeli army comment on those claims.

Home to more than a quarter of Gaza's residents before the war, Gaza City was largely razed to the ground in late 2023, but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have returned to homes in the ruins. Israel has once again ordered them out, though it is unclear where residents can go safely. Israel controls most of Gaza's borders and is also attacking central and southern Gaza.