General strike across Palestine today! ‘Recall Israeli ambassadors’ – Palestinian PM Shtayyeh

Palestinian children in one of the UNRWA schools – the Israeli army is threatening to bomb two of the UN schools in Gaza

A GENERAL strike has been called for today across the whole of Palestine.

The call began from Palestinians living and working in Israel and was then taken up by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh who confirmed that all businesses, industries and services in the West Bank will strike.

Gaza will also join the general strike in a united front against Israel.

Businesses, schools, universities and offices in the occupied territories will close as the Fatah Central Committee called on people to take part in the strike in protest against the Israeli aggression on Gaza, which has killed over 200 Palestinians, including 59 children and 35 women, and wounded some 1,300 others.

The Lawyers Syndicate, the General Union of Teachers and the Higher Committee of the Public Transportation, among other public unions and syndicates, issued calls backing the strike.

It is also supported by the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, popular movements, and political parties, as well as by the Arab High Follow-up Committee, which called the approximately 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel to observe the strike.

Shtayyeh went on to urge countries to offer concrete action, rather than words, against Israel.

‘Frankly speaking, it’s not enough at all to have declarations,’ said Shtayyeh, speaking from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

‘The UN must issue a resolution that describes all these actions as illegal and illegitimate against the Palestinian people,’ he said, calling for sanctions against Israel.

He also urged allies to summon ambassadors of Israel, to halt trade relations with the country and stop aid coming from the US and the European Union ‘until Israel respects human rights’.

‘Those children who are in blood, who lost their lives before even practising life … these are crimes to be punished by international law,’ he said.

‘The license to kill has been renewed for Israel and this must be stopped immediately.’

Meanwhile, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company says there are power cuts in ‘large areas’ of Gaza City after Israeli attacks damaged a line feeding electricity from the only power plant to southern areas of the city.

A spokesman for the power plant in Gaza said extensive damage was done in many areas of the enclave.

‘Electricity workers are not able to reach the areas where they are needed. Our teams are trying as much as they can to help people in need and provide electricity to houses and hospitals.’

He added: ‘We are at a point that we cannot repair because our stocks are almost empty. We urge everyone who can help to allow the electricity company to get the necessary tools for maintenance.’

Gaza-based journalist Youmna al-Sayed, reporting from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, said: ‘It’s another tense day in the Gaza Strip.

‘Hospitals are running out of resources. Corridors and all departments, including the administration, are filled with beds and mattresses,’ she said just a few minutes after an Israeli missile hit a car a few metres away, killing three people.

‘Electricity comes from one to three hours at best, which is a crisis for hospitals as well while generators are running out of fuel … the power crisis has triggered a water shortage as well.’

UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) Director Matthias Schmale said Israel has not allowed any humanitarian corridors during these hostilities.

‘In 2014 we had humanitarian corridors where we could move between installations and bring in materials,’ he said adding:

‘They are also striking very close to our installation here in Gaza, so the understanding we had in the past such as keeping some distance from our installation is not being respected sufficiently.’

The Israeli army earlier in the day threatened to bomb two UN schools in Gaza called Al Aqsa and Al Bouraq.

Asked about these threats Schmale said he had not received any direct warnings so far.

‘We have more than 41,000 people in 50 schools, so it would be of great concern if any of these installations were directly hit,’ he added.

Journalist Sami Abu Salem said an Israeli airstrike was heard near the UNRWA school, where many people were taking shelter.

‘We were at the UNRWA school where we heard an airstrike targeting a house in the south of Gaza City,’ he said.

‘People sheltering in this school were terrified.’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US remains ‘greatly concerned’ over the escalating violence and is working ‘extensively’ behind the scenes to bring hostilities to an end.

The US diplomat, speaking at a news conference in Denmark, urged all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and repeated that Israel has an extra burden to do everything to avoid civilian casualties.

Blinken also said he has not seen any Israeli evidence of Hamas operating in the Gaza building that housed homes, offices and media organisations – including Al Jazeera – that Israel hit on Saturday. Blinken says he has asked Israel for justification for the attack.