Ramallah: The Supreme Sharia Judicial Council in the Gaza Strip has reported an increase in divorce rates in the territory for 2016, with a total of 3,188 divorce cases being reported in the tiny coastal strip during that year.

The number of divorce cases reported in 2015 was 2,627, according to Shaikh Hassan Al Jojo, who heads the council. Last year saw a rise of 17.6 per cent from that number.

Al Jojo said in a statement that a total of 19,248 marriages were reported in Gaza during 2016, compared to 20,778 marriages in 2015 — a 7.3 per cent drop.

Al Jojo said the figures were extremely alarming as 43.1 per cent of Gaza’s total number of break-ups took place before the wedding ceremony.

“The main causes for divorces among Gazans were poverty, unemployment, the blockade, and the political and economic conditions in the strip,” the statement noted.

The Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine warned in a strongly worded statement of a possible revolt in the Gaza Strip, stressing that the policies being implemented there will have extremely negative results “for those who starve Gazans”.

“The ugliest possible political, economic and social crimes are committed against Gazan youths in broad daylight, before the shameful silence of the international community,” the statement said. “Human wolves [Israelis] have been authorised to sink the Gaza Strip deeper into poverty and unemployment, leading to such serious social illnesses as violence, crime and drug abuse.”

High rates of divorce, suicide and suicide attempts among Gazan youths, as well as the spread of drug abuse among them, are clear condemnations against the starving policies being implemented in the Strip.

“The intentional planting of depression and frustration among Gazan youth is under way ... in a carefully designed plan to destroy Gaza from within,” said the Front, which urged the various Palestinian factions and political powers, along with the international community, to create a well-designed programme targeting awareness of the problems faced by Gazan youths.

Unemployment among Gaza’s youth is estimated to be at 60 per cent. Last year, the United Nations warned that Gaza may become uninhabitable by 2020, if there is no change in the economic situation. Gaza has been the target of three Israeli aggressions, leaving thousands dead or injured, and destroying thousands of homes.

The Islamist movement of Hamas took control of the tiny coastal strip in 2007, following a brief civil war with its rival Fatah movement. Israel has been imposing a strict land and maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip ever since.