A GENERAL strike across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem was solid yesterday, with all Palestinian workers on strike and shops and businesses closed in solidarity with the 1,600 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The general strike was organised in support of the ‘Freedom and Dignity’ hunger strike, organised by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi. The strike was held on the 11th day of the mass hunger strike, and precedes the Fatah movement’s calls for a Day of Rage today, Friday April 28, during which Palestinians are expected to clash with Israeli forces in order to show their solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners’ movement.

The usually bustling streets of cities, towns, villages, and refugee camps across the West Bank were nearly empty on Thursday, in a scene that local Palestinians said were reminiscent of the First Intifada, which started in 1987, when Palestinians held general strikes as part of a civil disobedience campaign against Israeli forces.

Shops, institutions, banks, and schools all closed in support of the hunger strikers. 1,600 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel have been participating in the hunger strike since April 17 to protest at the torture, ill treatment, and medical neglect of prisoners at the hands of Israeli authorities, as well as Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention – internment without trial or charges.

On Tuesday, the National Committee to Support Hunger-Striking Prisoners called on Palestinians to boycott Israeli products in solidarity with the hundreds of detainees currently forgoing food. The committee, which is affiliated with the Palestinian Committee of Prisoner’s Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), called on Palestinian merchants to stop selling Israeli products and to empty their stocks of all goods manufactured in Israel.

‘As the Freedom and Dignity battle continues, the (Israeli) occupation escalates its discourse and oppressive measures against our children and our heroes who are fighting this saga,’ the support committee said in a statement. ‘To help them remain firm, it has been decided to completely boycott Israeli goods in Palestinian markets.’