Streets were empty and shops were closed across the West Bank on Monday as people in the occupied territory held a general strike to protest Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, part of a broader day of action that included work stoppages in Lebanon, Jordan, and elsewhere around the world.
Since Israel’s latest war on Gaza began following a deadly Hamas-led attack in early October, violence by settlers and occupying forces in the West Bank has surged, making 2023 the deadliest year in the Palestinian territory in nearly two decades. According to the humanitarian group Save the Children, Israeli soldiers or settlers have killed more than 100 kids in the West Bank so far this year — three times the number killed in 2022.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces have killed more than 7,000 children in less than two months, and more than a million kids are currently at grave risk as Israel expands its ground operation to include areas of southern Gaza that were previously seen as relative safe havens.
“The situation is extremely difficult,” Hussein al-Sayyed, who is staying with relatives in the southern city of Khan Younis after fleeing Gaza City earlier in the war, told The Associated Press. “I have children and I don’t know where to go. No place is safe.”
The West Bank’s general strike kicked off what’s expected to be an international day of strikes and other protests around the world demanding an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
Amman-based Roya News reported that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Jordan took part in the protests, “closing all its facilities, including its schools, and urging all employees and students to stay at home.”
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) December 11, 2023
The protests come days after the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. The move drew immediate and widespread backlash from humanitarian groups and lawmakers around the world, including some in U.S. President Joe Biden’s party.
“Shameful,” Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote Sunday in response to the veto. “The Biden admin can no longer reconcile their professed concern for Palestinians and human rights while also singlehandedly vetoing the U.N.’s call for a cease-fire and sidestepping the entire U.S. Congress to unconditionally back the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza.”
Muwafaq Sahwil, secretary of the Palestinian political party Fatah in Ramallah and el-Bireh, told Al Jazeera that Monday’s strikes are “a message to the U.S. administration that stands against the aspirations of our people.”
“It is also a message from people around the world to their politicians and the international community to stand up for the Palestinian people who have been suffering from occupation for 75 years,” said Sahwil. “We hope the strike will push the international community to help stop the war and to respond to Palestinians’ aspirations to achieve self-determination.”
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