RAMALLAH: Shops, offices, and schools closed across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Thursday as Palestinians went on strike in protest at blockades and the killing of a man who killed a female Israeli soldier in a checkpoint attack.
Uday Al-Tamimi, 22, was shot dead by security guards from the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, which is built on Palestinian lands east of the towns of Abu Dis and Al-Azariya.
The Israeli security forces were hunting Al-Tamimi after he killed a female soldier and injured two security guards in attacks on Shuafat camp checkpoints earlier this month.
A blockade was imposed on the camp as police, border guards, and the Shin Bet searched for him.
The Fatah movement had called for mourning of Al-Tamimi and rage rallies were organized in conjunction with the announcement of the comprehensive strike and the escalation.
Clashes erupted on Thursday at Israeli army checkpoints, where stun grenades and tear gas were fired at young demonstrators. Israeli border guards used explosive bullets against protesters on the outskirts of Jerusalem, wounding one young man in the foot.
Several protesters suffered the effects of tear gas as Israeli forces suppressed a march against an almost two-week blockade of Nablus.
The northern entrance to Ramallah, meanwhile, was the scene of clashes after hundreds mourned at the funeral of 16-year-old Mohammed Nuri, who died on Thursday from a bullet wound he suffered last month.
The Fatah movement had called on citizens to escalate their protest against the Israeli army and settlers. The General Union of Teachers announced a comprehensive strike in all schools, directorates, and the ministry.
According to Palestinian medical sources, the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year has reached 123 — a number not seen in the Palestinian territories since 2006.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Thusday’s general strike in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was a form of peaceful popular resistance in rejection of the ongoing Israeli escalation and its continuing crimes of occupation.
Israeli security forces are concerned that Al-Tamimi’s actions may spark copycat attacks.
Al-Tamimi left a letter saying that he knew his actions were a footnote in the Palestinian struggle, that he knew he would be killed, and that his attack would not liberate Palestine.
He added, however, that he believed hundreds of Palestinian youths would follow his example and return to armed struggle.
Ibrahim Mohammed, 53, from the Shuafat camp, praised Al-Tamimi’s actions, and noted that he had “impressed the Palestinian people with his unparalleled courage.”
He said that many of the camp’s 130,000 residents had been saddened and were mourning his loss.
“The continuous killing of Palestinians significantly increases the anger of the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation,” he told Arab News.
Youths in Shuafat destroyed surveillance cameras to complicate the hunt for Al-Tamimi. Hundreds cropped their hair after Israeli police stated they were looking for a man with a shaved head.
Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the PA’s executive committee and the social development minister, told Arab News that the resistance seen in the occupied territories was a natural response to Israeli aggression.
“The daily killing provokes the Palestinians, and there are two to four funerals daily, so what does the occupier expect? There is an unprecedented state of tension and popular anger against the occupation and settlers, and it is increasing day after day.”
Majdalani said that the state of instability, violence, and closures carried out by the Israeli army increased the burdens of the Palestinian government, and added that the Palestinian security services would not act as a security agent for the occupation.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian died in custody after he was detained by the Palestinian Authority’s military intelligence in Ramallah. The PA claimed he had taken his own life. However, his family and human rights groups believe he was tortured.
The suspect, Mohamed Al-Banna, was the brother of Mahmoud Al-Banna — wanted by the Israeli security services for his activities with the local Lion’s Den military group.
Several Palestinians have died in Palestinian security custody since the establishment of the PA in 1994.