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Strike action shakes Israel as Palestinians call for solidarity from global trade union movement

PALESTINIAN workers shut down businesses in Israel today in a political strike against the bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, which continues to escalate as hospitals and infrastructure  are targeted by missiles.

Big delivery firms and restaurants in Israel were among those forced to close their doors as Palestinian workers, who make up a large proportion of the workforce, walked out as part of a 24-hour general strike.

Strikes in the past have been limited to the West Bank due to the geographical and political fragmentation of Palestinian communities by the Israeli occupation.

This strike was supported by both Fatah, which governs the West Bank, and Hamas, which governs Gaza. It was also backed by the communist-led Hadash coalition in Israel, the country’s only political party that has a mixed Jewish and Arab membership.

Akram Salhab, a resident of East Jerusalem, told the Morning Star: “What’s significant about this strike is that it is all across historic Palestine, with a huge solidarity effort across the world to raise their voices. 

“People have managed in just one day to get the word out and take to the streets.

“The widespread strikes have affected the building sector, hospitals, catering — those are the sectors that are really having an impact.

“What’s happening here is an enormous Palestine-wide movement to confront Israeli crimes, unprecedented in our history. We are really seeing the new generation rise up and take its future into its own hands.”

In East Jerusalem the majority of businesses closed on Tuesday, with large protests planned later in the day to support families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood facing eviction. 

Mr Salhab also appealed to trade unions in Britain and across the world, who say they stand in solidarity with Palestinians, to put that into action.

“If Israel doesn’t feel that pressure internationally they are going to continue — trade unions have a duty to make sure they are not handling Israeli goods, that their investment funds are not funding Israeli corporations and that they support trade unionists and workers to take action,” he said.

Awad Abdel Fattah of the One Democratic State Campaign and former general secretary of the Palestinian National Democratic Assembly (NDA) said that the strike is the “most successful one for many years.” 

It has caused disruptions in the transport sector and other services with high proportions of Palestinian workers, he said. 

“The strike is successful, the spirits are high. Today Israel feels it is against a united front.

“Palestinian people are united in their struggle. They are now retaining their awareness that they are one people.

“All the attempts and the plans to divide the Palestinian people have failed.”

Israel is trying to brutally crack down on resistance in Palestinian communities, arresting over 800 people — the majority young adults and teenagers, Mr Fattah added.

“The aim is to repress the intifada and stop the uprising spreading without addressing the root cause of the uprising.”

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