Palestinians united on 18 May for a general strike against the brutal bombing of Gaza and the ongoing Israeli occupation. This was reportedly the “first time in decades” there’s been such a large strike among Palestinians.
A context of extreme occupier violence
The Norwegian Refugee Council confirmed today that 11 of over 60 children killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza over the last week were participating in its psycho-social program aimed at helping them deal with trauma. The kids were between 5 and 15 years old. pic.twitter.com/Ej0f3Ov3xQ— Dalia Hatuqa (@DaliaHatuqa) May 18, 2021
Israeli forces have killed around 213 Gazans in total, so far. They’ve also bombed civilian buildings, with Israeli human rights group B’Tselem calling their actions “war crimes”. The UN says Israeli attacks have already displaced over 58,000 people in Gaza. Most of these are currently sheltering in UN-run schools. Gaza’s response to the assault, meanwhile, has killed 12 people in Israel, including two children. At the same time, Israeli state repression is ongoing in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem too, with Israeli authorities having injured around 5,000 people and killed 20.
Israel’s latest attack on Gaza came after weeks of violent state repression of protests in Jerusalem. It also came as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu struggled to stay in power during an ongoing corruption trial. Commentators expect the current violence to increase his popularity.
Massive general strike shows growing unity in Palestine
One Palestinian journalist called the strike a “historical event”. And people sharing images from the strike have said there seems to be increasing unity among Palestinians:
Today’s protest in Bethlehem. Thousands of people of all ages & socio-economic backgrounds. These protests are getting bigger every day. “From Bethlehem to Gaza, we are one people, United.”#Palestine #اضراب_الكرامة #FreePalestine https://t.co/UG403Qt18X— Yumna (@yumna_patel) May 18, 2021
Jaffa, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Haifa and all of occupied Palestine participating in the #StrikeForPalestine today.— mohammed el-kurd (@m7mdkurd) May 18, 2021
This heartwarming national unity proves that colonial borders are only effective in the minds of the colonizers. #SaveSheikhJarrah pic.twitter.com/QOPe7B9lVx
Salem Barahmeh from the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, meanwhile, told Al Jazeera:
It is important to rise as one and try to transcend the forced fragmentation imposed on Palestinians by Israel
Palestinians have reportedly been “reclaiming public spaces with art and music” in Israel, too:
After several nights of terror, Palestinians are reclaiming public spaces with art and music. Here’s what it looks like now in Wadi Nisnas, Haifa. pic.twitter.com/jwRYZicyDR— Henriette Chacar هنريت شقر (@HenrietteChacar) May 18, 2021
Haifa sings to Ramallah during today’s Palestinian general strike, in Wadi Nisnas, Haifa. pic.twitter.com/xL2FMyWcFY— Amjad Iraqi (@aj_iraqi) May 18, 2021
There have also been protests in Israel and occupied Jerusalem:
Now in Jaffa: after 43 minutes of protest, speeches in 4 languages and the singing of the Palestinian anthem – the demonstration is over. Organizers are trying to avoid all types of confrontation with police pic.twitter.com/6JjWIkP8iA— Haggai Matar (@Ha_Matar) May 18, 2021
Israeli forces have reportedly been firing at protesters in both the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem:
Scenes from Damascus Gate, in occupied Jerusalem: Palestinians chanting for their freedom are met with Israeli police violence. pic.twitter.com/6sMI9PEHDz— IMEU (@theIMEU) May 18, 2021
Main article image via screenshot