The general strike was a sign that the war could escalate again after a spasm of communal violence in Israel and protests across the occupied West Bank last week.
Although the strike was peaceful in many places, with shop closings in the generally bustling markets of Jerusalem’s Old City, violence broke out in West Bank towns.
Hundreds of Palestinians burned tires in Ramallah and threw stones at an Israeli military checkpoint. The troops fired tear gas and the protesters picked up some of the cans and threw them away. Three protesters were killed and more than 140 injured in clashes with Israeli troops in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and other cities, according to the Palestinian health ministry. The IDF said two soldiers were shot in the leg.
The general strike was an unusual display of unity on the part of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20 percent of its population, and those of the territories Israel seized in 1967 that Palestinians have long sought for a future state. .
The strike was aimed at protesting the war and Israeli policies which, according to many activists and some rights groups, constitute a comprehensive apartheid system that denies the rights of Palestinians accorded to Jews. Israel rejects this characterization, claiming that its citizens have equal rights. He attributes the war to Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, and accuses it of inciting violence.
Leaders of the Palestinian community in Israel called the strike, which was adopted by the internationally supported Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, where ministries and schools were closed. Most companies appear to be observing the strike.
The organizer of the strike, Muhammad Barakeh, said the Palestinians were standing up against Israeli “aggression” in Gaza and Jerusalem, as well as against “brutal repression” by the police.
The war has also seen an unusual outbreak of violence in Israel, with groups of Jewish and Palestinian citizens fighting in the streets and setting vehicles and buildings on fire. In Israel and the West Bank, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces. Dozens of people were injured, including a Jew who died Monday after being attacked last week by a group of Arabs in the central city of Lod.
The fighting began on May 10 when Hamas fired long-range rockets at Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests against harsh Israeli police inside the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque, a sacred flashpoint for Jews and Muslims, and the threat of expulsion of dozens of Palestinians. families by Jewish settlers.
At least 217 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes, including 63 children, with more than 1,500 injured, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which does not divide the figures between combatants and civilians. Hamas and Islamic Jihad say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel says the number is at least 130.
Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy, were killed in rocket attacks.
Tuesday’s rocket attack from Gaza hit a packaging factory in an area bordering the territory, killing two Thai workers. Israeli rescue service Magen David Adom said seven more were needed at the hospital. Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said the injured were also Thai.
The IDF said rockets were also fired at the Erez crosswalk and Kerem Shalom crossing, where humanitarian aid was channeled into Gaza, forcing them to close. He said a soldier was slightly injured in Erez.
Israeli airstrikes in Gaza demolished a six-story building housing bookstores and educational centers used by the Islamic University and other colleges. Desks, office chairs, books and cables were visible in the debris. Israel warned its occupiers ahead of time, causing them to flee before dawn. No injuries were reported.
The Israeli military has launched hundreds of airstrikes it claims target Hamas’s militant infrastructure, while Palestinian militants have fired more than 3,400 rockets from civilian areas of Gaza at civilian targets in Israel.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the military is focused on destroying the tunnels where Hamas fighters hide, move between sites and refuel launchers with rockets to shoot Israel.
The tunnels pass under civilian quarters and Israeli airstrikes have attempted to target the roads above them to minimize damage to buildings, Conricus said. A weekend airstrike that Israel said targeted a tunnel caused several buildings to collapse and killed 42 people in the conflict’s deadliest attack.