1948 Palestinians Continue General Strike Across Occupied Palestine

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Leaders of 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of Israel declared a general strike throughout the country on Tuesday in protest against the recent deaths of two Bedouin men in confrontations with Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

Former member of parliament Taleb al-Sana, chairman of an umbrella organization of Palestinian citizens of Israel, said schools and businesses would close from the Galilee in the north to the Negev desert in the south.

"The general strike today is to send a strong message that the entire Palestinian community... strongly protests the murders of two citizens of Israel whose only crime is being Bedouin," Sana, who is himself Bedouin, told Israeli army radio.

Sami al-Jaar, 22, died of a gunshot wound last week during clashes between Palestinian protesters and the IOF in the Negev town of Rahat.

During Jaar's funeral on Sunday, 45-year-old Sami Ibrahim Zayadna, died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli police at mourners. Over 40 other people were injured during the clashes, including Rahat mayor Talal al-Qureinawi and Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement.

Following Zayadna's burial on Monday, IOF arrested five men and accused them of hurling stone at Israeli soldiers. IOF added more arrests were expected.

In November, the Israeli cabinet approved a new legislation that would allow the imposition of a prison sentence up to 20 years for those convicted of throwing stones or other objects at Israeli soldiers or their vehicles.

Officials in Rahat and in the northern occupied Palestinian town of Umm el-Fahm said schools were closed and shops were shuttered on Tuesday. Residents of Rahat have been on strike since Sunday.

Palestinian students at Tel Aviv University staged a protest outside the campus fence, drawing jeers and angry retorts from Jewish passers-by, according to Israeli public radio.

Other media reported a similar protest by university students in the northern city of Haifa.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for about 20 percent of the population in Occupied Palestine, are the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land when the Zionist state was established in 1948. The majority of Palestinians were killed, expelled from their homes, or detained in work camps.

There are about 260,000 Bedouin in Occupied Palestine, mostly living in and around the Negev in the arid south. More than half live in unrecognized villages without utilities, and many also live in extreme poverty.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship complain of routine discrimination, particularly in housing, land access and employment, and anger has risen in recent months over Israel's assault on Gaza that left more than 2,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead. More than 700 Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories were arrested in protests against the attack over summer.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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