Israel yesterday shot hundreds of Palestinians participating in a general strike across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), leaving scores wounded.
In the besieged Gaza Strip, 93 people were left injured after Israeli naval forces fired live rounds and rubber-coated bullets at protesters. Thirty-seven Palestinians were shot with live bullets, according to Wafa, and were subsequently transferred to hospitals for medical treatment "where their conditions were described as moderate." Wafa also added that there were "several suffocation cases due to tear gas inhalation."
In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians participating in the general strike were also targeted by Israeli forces in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron. In Al-Bireh, just outside Ramallah, a Palestinian journalist was shot and injured with a rubber-coated bullet and others suffocated, according to Wafa. Similar incidents were reported in Qalandia refugee camp, where Israeli soldiers attacked a rally taking place, "shooting and injuring a youth with live ammunition in his back."
In Jerusalem, Israeli police attacked Palestinians who gathered in the courtyards of Damascus Gate. Wafa reported that "[Israeli] police physically assaulted protesters and used pepper spray against them, injuring a young man". Israeli forces also stormed the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Al-Mukaber in occupied East Jerusalem and targeted protesters in Al-Azariya and Abu Dis. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), five Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli occupation forces and ten others suffered from tear-gas inhalation, Ma'an reported.
Palestinians had gathered across the oPt and Israel to participate in a general strike in protest of Israel's recently-imposed Nation State law. The strike was initiated by Palestinian citizens of Israel, with chair of the Joint List Hassan Jabareen saying: "The strike sends a message of opposition to the continued discrimination and racism towards the Arab public, which will not receive inferior citizenship status […] We were born in this country and will fight for national equality." Various Palestinian factions came out in support of the strike, with shops, government and financial institutions, schools and universities and public transport across the oPt observing the strike.
The Nation State law was passed in July and declared that: "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it." Given that over 25 per cent of Israel's population is comprised of non-Jewish communities, the Nation State law was seen as an attack on these minorities and lambasted by Druze and Palestinian citizens of Israel alike. The law also demoted the status of Arabic from an official language of the State of Israel to one with "special status".
Yesterday's strike was given additional significance by its commemoration of the killing of 13 Palestinian citizens of Israel in October 2000 in the Galilee and Wadi Ara regions. Combined with Ariel Sharon's storming of Al-Haram Al-Sharif in September 2000, the killing was seen as a key event which sparked the Second Intifada.