Palestinian youth, together with a wide range of social and political organizations, are calling for a general strike this Tuesday, May 18.
The strike is being called in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and several cities inside Israel.
I am in awe of the international solidarity with Palestinians against settler-colonialism and ethnic cleansing. Liberation is within our reach. JOIN US ON MAY 18. #SaveSheikhJarrah #GenocideInGaza pic.twitter.com/Y38Y76g23A
— mohammed el-kurd (@m7mdkurd) May 16, 2021
According to Middle East Eye, “the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel announced on Sunday that it had approved a general strike in response to ongoing Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza, Jerusalem and many parts of the West Bank..” Among the demands of the strike are an end to airstrikes in Gaza, which have claimed the lives of more than 192 Palestinians since last Monday, as well as the withdrawal of settlers from occupied neighborhoods.
The Committee, which is an extra-parliamentary organization composed of Palestinian members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), Palestinian mayors, and leaders of civic movements, called for a strike that includes the participation of local authorities and youth communities in all cities and towns. The Committee issued the announcement after a call for action for Tuesday circulated on social media.
As activist and journalist Fadi Quran points out, the strike:
Is a significant development for multiple reasons. It is breaking decades of political fragmentation where Palestinian actors in each subdivision (WB [West Bank], #Gaza, 48 areas), acted individually. The youth’s initiative to refuse to allow this fragmentation to continue, if it succeeds, further builds up unity not seen in decades. Whereas the last month’s developments mainly included young people, this allows a broader swath of society to engage. This is key at this moment, expanding agency to meet demographics. The PA [Palestinian Authority] and Arab party leaders in Israel are working, quietly, to go back to oppressive status quo where they control the street. This, if it succeeds, turns those plans on its heads.
Palestinian protests inside Israel have already shown unprecedented unity. Thousands of Palestinian citizens in towns, villages, and so-called “mixed” cities (in which both Israelis and Arabs reside) have taken to the streets; they face daily repression by the Israeli Army as well as by settlers who regularly attack Palestinians at night or set up checkpoints during the day to control people’s comings and goings.
Protests also multiplied in the West Bank, where the weakened Palestinian Authority is beginning to lose control of the streets in the face of Israel’s brutal attacks. There, at least 12 Palestinians have already been killed by the Israeli army’s repression.
But the mobilizations have not been limited to Palestine alone. There were large demonstrations against Israel’s violent assault on Palestine across the Middle East; many of these protests were carried out in defiance of governments and monarchies that maintain cordial relations with Israel or that have directly negotiated agreements with Israel against the interests of the Palestinian people.
The call for the strike comes in the midst of the deadliest day of Israeli attacks on Gaza, bringing the death count of this latest Israeli offensive up to nearly 200 people, many of them children.
This Sunday, a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council concluded without issuing any statement against Israel. This should come as no surprise, as the United States has veto power in the Security Council and gives full support to Israel.
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke on Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to make it clear that the United States supports the vicious bombings carried out by the Zionist state. Biden justifies them as “Israel’s right to defend itself” from Hamas attacks. These missile attacks by Hamas — which are overwhelmingly intercepted by Israel’s U.S.-funded missile defense system Iron Dome, but which have killed 10 people in Israel — are used as an excuse, to hide the fact that the current onslaught began because of attacks perpetrated by the Israeli army, Jewish settlers, and far-right militias against Palestinians in East Jerusalem. These attacks triggered the response from Gaza, but they have also provoked the waves of protests that are spreading across mixed cities in the region.
Faced with the possibility that the escalating protests and clashes with Israeli settlers and occupation forces could become uncontrollable and spread to other countries in the region, Biden was forced to speak with the president of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas, over the weekend to give the appearance of considering both sides of the conflict.
Meanwhile, Israel’s butchery, supported by the United States under the complicit gaze of the European Union — which does good business with the Zionist state of Israel — continues, becoming more lethal each day.
In open defiance of the unconditional support given to the terrorist state of Israel by the United States, the European Union, and the monarchies and bourgeoisies of other countries in the Middle East, many thousands of people mobilized around the world on Saturday — the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba — to stand with the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation and apartheid. The possibility of a general strike on Tuesday is a promising development that could mark the beginning of unifying resistance against Israel across the region.
Originally published in Spanish on May 17, 2021 in La Izquierda Diario.
Translated by Madeleine Freeman