Palestinian mass general strike – supporting hunger strikers

23 May

Businesses in Hebron shut down on May 22, 2017, in observance of the general strike.

Ma’an News Agency report, Bethlehem, 22 May 2017

Palestinians observe general strike in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners

Palestinians observed a general strike on Monday, shuttering businesses and institutions en masse in support of more than 1,300 Palestinians who have been on hunger strike in Israeli prisons since April 17. Palestinian activists also blocked roads in the central occupied West Bank to prevent commuters from accessing Ramallah.

The media committee for the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike said in a statement that it was “the first time since the First Palestinian Intifada (1987-1993) that a general strike was observed in occupied West Bank, the Palestinian territory occupied in 1948 (present-day Israel), and in the diaspora.”

The committee urged Palestinians to gather at one of the many sit-in tents established throughout the occupied territory in support of the strike at 11 a.m. to prepare for political rallies organized for later in the day.

The statement also called upon Palestinians to undertake a 12-hour “hunger strike,” and fast between 10 a.m to 10 p.m. on Monday in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, who are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.

The Higher Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel held a meeting at Tayibe city hall in central Israel, and stressed that all Palestinian citizens of Israel should join general strike, with the exception of schools and emergency services.

Meanwhile, schools, banks, and public transit in the occupied West Bank shut down in observance of the strike, though hospitals and emergency services remained open.

Reports have yet to emerge to confirm that diaspora Palestinians living abroad were also observing the strike.

[An earlier] general strike called for on the 11th day of the hunger strike was also widely observed in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Monday’s strike was also widely observed in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian shops and businesses in Jerusalem shut down, including in the Old City and its surrounding villages.

Head of the union of parents’ committees in the occupied East Jerusalem Ziyad al-Shamali told Ma’an that schools also observed the strike.

According to al-Shamali, the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat released a statement Sunday ordering that all schools administered by the Israel’s Jerusalem municipality to operate normally on Monday.

However, the parents’ committees affirmed that the schools would close anyway in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, “because Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian homeland,” al-Shamali said.

The “occupation’s municipality owns and runs several (Palestinian) schools in the city, but it doesn’t own the students and their families,” he said.

Earlier Monday morning, Palestinian activists blocked off all roads leading to the central occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh with large rocks and burning tires to ensure people adhere to the general strike, witnesses told Ma’an.

In Ramallah city, all stores, shops, and factories remained closed and the streets were almost completely emptied of people.

Young men were stopping all vehicles attempted to travel into the Ramallah district, which represents the commercial center of the West Bank, and coerced them to return to their villages or cities of residence.

International diplomats and employees of international organizations who live in the outskirts of Ramallah, including consuls, were unable to reach their working places, local sources said.

Activists blocked the Ramallah-Jerusalem road at two locations, near Qalandia refugee camp and near al-Amari refugee camp.

The main highway between Ramallah and Nablus was also closed, as locals blocked a section of the road near al-Jalazun refugee camp in northern Ramallah with dumpsters and burning tires.

The main road between Ramallah and villages in the west of the Ramallah district was also closed near the town of Beituniya, with activists there denying vehicles access to Ramallah.

The road connecting Ramallah city and the villages of Bani Zeid al-Gharbiyya and Bani Zeid al-Sharqiyya was also blocked with rocks and burning tires.

The road between Ramallah city and all villages in the northern Ramallah district was blocked near the entrance to the village of Biddu, and vehicles were not allowed to move. In northwest Jerusalem, young men closed the main road in the village of al-Jib.

The general strike also coincides with US President Donald Trump’s arrival to Israel on Monday. He will later meet with both the Israeli president and prime minister in Jerusalem.

In addition to the general strike, the committee for the Freedom and Dignity strike has also called for a “Day of Rage” on Tuesday, when Trump is expected to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian factions urged the public to join rallies to express their rejection to the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel under US sponsorship.

Popular protests demanding that Israel meet the demands of hunger strikers have previously erupted into violent clashes with Israeli forces, most recently last Friday, since the strike began more than two months ago.

 

One Response to “Palestinian mass general strike – supporting hunger strikers”

  1. Lois Griffiths May 23, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

    Abbas is not ‘Palestinian President.’ His term of Office ended 2009 .

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